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PND goes electronic

By Jeffrey Barg

We’ve been considering developing an on-line local medical news service for well over a year now. The exponential growth of the World Wide Web made the prospect seem inevitable. If Joe’s Pizzeria down the street has a web site, how could the leading source of local medical news not have an Internet presence?

We did not, however, want to have a web site that looked like Joe’s, or like most of the other sites we’ve come across with intricate backgrounds rendering text illegible, or scrolling and flashing text, whirling graphics, and the like. Nor did we want to merely shovel content from our newspaper into a web site. We wanted to develop a user-friendly, local medical information service that would be well adapted to the new medium and complement or enhance our print publication, rather than duplicate it.

After countless hours accessing text, audio, video and chat over the Net, it became clear that there are unique strengths of the Internet which will make it an enduring part of our information society, but that it cannot substitute for the ease of reading a newspaper, magazine or book, nor for the unique qualities of radio, television, the telephone, or even a quaintly inefficient in-person conversation.

We hope to provide you with the best local medical news and analysis in ways that will best use the respective strengths of print and electronic publishing. Our print version will probably be the most convenient way to read our monthly news and features; whereas our web site will provide supporting documents and background material unavailable in the print version, news briefs updated on a daily basis, ability to do keyword searches of present and past editions, ability to quickly and easily respond to issues addressed in the paper via e-mail and by posting on our electronic discussion forum, and a comprehensive database of CME programs searchable in a variety of ways. (Free subscriptions to daily news briefs delivered by e-mail may also be obtained through our web site.)

We will also have a new regular section on the web site: Medicine and Computers. At its best, columns in this section will exemplify the topics they cover with links to other web sites, software downloads and java applets operating on our web pages. (If you don’t know what java applets are, don’t worry. Neither do I and I can still get excited about them.)

We will, of course, be learning and enhancing the web site just like everybody else working in this new and quickly evolving medium. We welcome your feedback, which can be easily transmitted via e-mail or by posting in our discussion forum.

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