On-line data a closed world to many

Benson Chao

LOCAL undergraduates are not making good use of the Internet's World Wide Web service which provides an alternative to conventional methods of collecting information for research, a computer network expert says.

When it comes to gathering information for term papers, dissertations or projects, most university students still depend on printed documents from journals, magazines or reference books in libraries.

With most computer network systems at Hong Kong's universities linked up to the Internet, students can broaden their data collection capabilities with the click of a mouse on the World Wide Web service.

The director of the Social Sciences Research Centre of the University of Hong Kong, Dr John Bacon-Shone, said: 'In the World Wide Web service, users can read 'hypertext' documents with highlighted words.

'If the user clicks on those highlighted words, the system will provide information from around the world related to that particular word. This information may come in the form of video, sound, text or pictures.' Dr Bacon-Shone said mainly postgraduate and students of computer science and engineering were familiar with the service.

'It [the World Wide Web] is still something new among undergraduates and a lot of them are unfamiliar with it.' Besides getting information from the web, information can also be put into the system.

The director said most faculties at local universities were already doing this, but it would be a year or two before students were able to do so.

He said academics had also recently begun publishing their research reports via the Internet rather than relying only on international journals to disseminate their findings.

In order to review recent developments of the World Wide Web in Hong Kong as well as to share experiences related to the service, Hong Kong University and the University of Science and Technology will be organising the 'First Hong Kong Symposium on the World Wide Web' from June 25 until June 27.

Topics will include tertiary teaching, learning and research, language learning, on-line surveys of students and faculty and school networking.

Further information on the course is available from the Social Sciences Research Centre at Hong Kong University.