Volume 10 (5) September/October 1996
The Internet is growing rapidly with new web sites appearing on a daily basis. Technology is also moving rapidly with new features being introduced into web browsers, for example, an Internet telephony system will soon become part of Netscape. The aim of developers such as Apple and Microsoft is to eventually integrate web browsers into the computers operating system thus enabling seamless access to the Internet. All these trends highlight the fact that we are indeed in the midst of a communications revolution and these new communcation resources will become part of our daily lives within the next decade as the technology matures. The Internet is also facilitating the delivery of information to a global audience. The PharmWeb access statistics are perhaps a good indication of the growth of the Internet. Over 105 countries have now accessed the UK servers alone.
PharmWeb has been undergoing major changes. As many users of PharmWeb will be aware, I have been seeking funding to continue the development of PharmWeb as the first-stop site on the Internet for pharmaceutical information. As a result of a collaboration with Gardiner-Caldwell Communications (GCC) PharmWeb now has the resources to realise these goals. The first development has been the installation of a state-of-the-art Internet server (in fact the fastest SUN Internet server available). This server will be dedicated to PharmWeb and thus will provide very fast access to information. PharmWeb also has a new address which you may wish to bookmark (http://www.pharmweb.net). The problem of insufficient bandwidth (slow connectivity) still plagues the Internet and we have continued to address this with further PharmWeb mirror sites in New Zealand and Hungary. Present access from the UK servers alone exceed 80,000 page downloads per month.
PharmWeb has also become established as the first specialised Internet provider, and professional pharmaceutical and health-related organisations are offered the opportunity to locate their web sites on PharmWeb. Several major international organisations including societies, publishers, hospitals and companies have already established sites on PharmWeb. As the Internet grows it is becoming progressively harder to locate useful information and PharmWeb aims to make it easier for organisations to deliver information to their target audience and for users to find this information.
Over 80 discussion groups have now been established on PharmWeb with recent additions being the biotechnology discussion group. We will soon be updating our software for handling discussion groups which will allow users to view messages on a web page in addition to delivery via e-mail.
The 'World Wide Pharmacy Colleges/Departments/Schools' database is one of the most heavily accessed parts of PharmWeb. This regularly updated database is provided by FIP. Information on every school of pharmacy is maintained including web addresses and e-mail contact addressess is available.
A new search engine is presently under development on PharmWeb. Conventional search engines can be difficult to use and can produce unexpected results. Most search engines also tend to index the whole Internet which is not much use if you are seeking specific high quality pharmaceutical information. The PharmSearch system is designed to specifically index high quality information. The search engine is designed to index all the information held on PharmWeb (including the information maintained by organisations), in addition, PharmWeb is configured to search other specific sites on the Internet, thus organisations can selectively request for their sites to be indexed. The search for reliable pharmaceutical information should thus be improved using this method.
New links to interesting sites on the Internet are continuously added to the PharmWeb database. Please continue to send us new links and feedback as the development of PharmWeb will continue in response to your requirements.
Finally, can I thank all users of PharmWeb for their support over the last two years. I would particularly like to thank Alan Davidson and FIP for their continued support of PharmWeb. Considerable effort has gone into the development of PharmWeb and I am looking forward to the many new challenges as we continue our developments.
As usual, if you have found any interesting sites on the Internet that we have not listed on PharmWeb and that may be of interest to the pharmacy community, please let us know.
Dr. A. D'Emanuele