Home Pages on the Web:
A Look at the IAEA's World Atom

by Lothar Wedekind, Division of Public Information.


World Wide Web sounds like a conspiracy from the pages of Ian Fleming. That it's a relatively harmless communications tool from the talented minds of the CERN scientific research centre in Geneva should not be too surprising. Born of frustration in electronically accessing and retrieving scientific data, reports, graphs, charts, models, and figures, the Web stands as one of science's latest successful transfers of technology. The welcome wizard and its system of home pages enable customized multi-media communications over the world's interlinked computer networks called the Internet.

The IAEA opened a set of home pages to public access in June 1995. The IAEA's World Atom today delivers information about the Agency and global nuclear development drawn from more than 1000 underlying, interconnected, and formatted documents and files. The system includes background information as well as more detailed reports about the status of nuclear power, nuclear safeguards and verification, global nuclear conventions, nuclear and radiation safety, and nuclear applications, for example. World Atom -- a joint project of the IAEA's computer and public information services -- also links users to selected other nuclear-related networks on the Web based in the IAEA's Member States and at organizations within the UN system.

Primarily intended for general audiences, World Atom is being designed for easy use. It is built around the concept of a magazine bound by seemingly endless numbers of electronic pages, which readers can flip through with the click of the mouse. Decisions about where the pages are, how they are linked and designed, and what information they contain are part of the day-to-day production process. For the most part, links are topically oriented, in efforts to integrate World Atom's hundreds of underlying pages.

Still in its early stages, the system today is a skeleton of what it will become as the World Atom team prepares empty pages for production and brings future links on line. Envisaged is an integrated family of home pages customized to the particular information requirements of the Agency and its scientific, governmental, and public audiences.

GC/39 on line.One sign of the times appears in World Atom this September, in connection with the 39th Regular Session of the IAEA General Conference. For the first time, the Agency is placing key information from and about the Conference on line. Pages will feature the annotated agenda and related public reference documents; full texts of selected addresses, including the statement of the IAEA Director General; summaries of delegate statements; and press releases and background notes for the media. Information will be updated throughout the week-long Conference, as part of a wider IAEA computer exhibit to demonstrate its Internet-based services and capabilities.

Like other information about the Agency, the set of GC/39 pages can be found on the IAEA's World Atom at its Web address: http://www.iaea.or.at/worldatom/. Selected pages, including the full set of GC resolutions and decisions, will stay on line for easy reference well after the Conference closes.