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Technology: CD Hansard speed House search

作者:山不迢    发布时间:2019-03-02 04:04:06    

By ELISABETH GEAKE Compact discs made their mark on democracy last week when the first edition of Hansard was published on CD-ROM. The official record of the 1990/1991 session of parliament is stored on a single 12-centimetre CD-ROM disc, a cousin to the compact disc which stores computer data. Future sessions will be available about three months after each recess. Until now Hansard has been available only on paper or microfiche, so searching involved a laborious trawl through the index. CD-ROM will make searching much quicker and more accurate. A CD-ROM player connected to a personal computer only takes a few seconds to find a complete list of references to a key word. The full text can then be called up on the screen. John Russell of Chadwyck-Healey, the publishers of the CD-ROMs along with HMSO, says: ‘It will make what’s been said in the House far more accessible. I hope people will be able to go into public libraries and look up what they like about their MP, their voting record, how many times they’ve been on their feet and so on.’ He hopes the new version of Hansard will make politicians more accountable and so contribute to democracy. But Peter Pulzer, Gladstone Professor of government and public administration at the University of Oxford, warns that better access to information does not necessarily lead to greater democracy. He believes that most people are satisfied by newspaper and broadcast reports of parliamentary proceedings, and the CD-ROM system will not reach the masses. But pressure groups who cannot afford parliamentary researchers are likely to benefit. A Greenpeace spokeswoman says: ‘I don’t think it will radically change our campaigning, but we have a political unit and this will speed up their work, so we can use their resources in a different way.’ The CD-ROM format can also store sound and pictures, but, says Russell,

 

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