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Frequently Asked Questions about
"Welcome to the White House: An Interactive Citizens' Handbook"
What is it?
It is an interactive citizens' handbook that is available on the
Internet, a network of computer networks that is used by people in
over 150 countries. It uses a service on the Internet called the
World Wide Web (WWW), which gives people the ability to share
documents that not only contain text but also include graphics,
photos, sound, and video.
What can you do with it?
The service has four principal functions:
It allows users to link to all online resources made available by
U.S. government agencies, as well as a subject index to government
information and other ways of finding it. All Cabinet-level agencies
are providing public information this way, as well as most of the
independent agencies and commissions.
It lets people view electronic photo albums, some of which include
audio segments. Examples include highlights of the President's first
year and a half in office, the inaugural celebration, and virtual
tours of the White House and the Old Executive Office Building.
It provides an enhanced interface for sending electronic mail to the
President and Vice President, which improves the handling and analysis
of e-mail and the ability to gather information from incoming
It indexes all White House publications so that finding and retrieving
documents is made easier.
How does it work?
Using software such as Mosaic (distributed for free by the
Federally-supported National Center for Supercomputing Applications),
people with a communicating computer and an Internet connection are
able access the World Wide Web. Mosaic and the WWW provide an
easy-to-use graphical interface for the Internet by allowing words and
images to be used as direct links to additional information on related
topics. Simply by "clicking" on a linked word or image, a user can
retrieve and display new files and information effortlessly, without
Why is the White House doing this?
It was developed to improve the way the Federal government uses the
Internet to communicate and interact with the American people. It
enriches the government information available to citizens, businesses,
schools, libraries, and other institutions. It provides a single
point of access to all the government information and services that
are available on the Internet. The service demonstrates real progress
in improving the National Information Infrastructure by showing the
government is using information technology to make itself more
understandable to the public. It can help promote interaction and
participation with citizens by offering government agencies a method
to present their missions and programs.
Who will have access to it?
Of the 20 million or so who have access to the Internet, currently
several million Americans have access to Mosaic and the World Wide
Web. Most universities are connected to the Internet as are an
increasing number of public schools, libraries, local governments, and
other public institutions and non-profit organizations. Because it
makes the Internet significantly easier to use, the WWW is the
fastest-growing service on the Internet, with traffic growing an
average of 27% per month. However, since many people have access to
the Internet but not at a level that supports Mosaic and other
graphical browsers, the service has been designed to work very well
with Lynx and other popular text-based browsers. We are working on a
CD-ROM version and showed the prototype of public access kiosk version
at the service's rollout. People without computers can call the
Federal Information Center at 800-347-1997, which has access to
Welcome to the White House as well as other sources of information for
What about Americans with disabilities?
Services on the WWW also are accessible with software that does not
display graphics, so they can be used with Braille readers and
voice-generation devices. The White House service has been specially
designed to facilitate access by people with text-only software.
Who is working on this?
The project team includes the Office of Science and Technology Policy
(OSTP), the Office of Media Affairs, the National Economic Council,
the Office of the Counselor to the President, the Office of
Correspondence and Presidential Messages, and the Office of
Administration. Please contact David Lytel at OSTP (456-6037), Jock
Gill at Media Affairs (456-5660), Lynda Rathbone in the Office of the
Counselor to the President (456-2000), or Tom Kalil at the National
Economic Council (456-2802), with any additional questions.
What is the address of the service on the Internet?
As of 20 October 1994 it will be at http://www.whitehouse.gov.