Presidents and PMs in Cyberia!

January 22, '09; BANGALORE: New President, new cyber style: On the day Barack Obama took the oath of office as President of the United States, his web page promises a new look and improved interfaces with the American electorate.

Macon Phillips, Whitehouse Director of New Media promises in a blog at that new features will include emailed updates, to all those signing up, whenever major decisions impacting citizens are taken. Executive orders and proclamations will be published at the site for everyone to review.

All non emergency legislation will be published for 5 days, for the public to assess and comment upon before they are signed into law. We hardly had a presidential presence on the Web till the tech-savvy Abdul Kalam created one -- and continues to mirror the life and work of the current incumbent of Rashtrapathi Bhavan, Pratibha Patil. New on the site this week,is an invitation to walk a nature trail inside the presidential estate -- complete with attractive pictures of the suggested route.

The Indian Prime Minister's site on speeches and events; committee, councils and major government programmes. There is a button which leads to a telephone number for those who want to take an appointment to meet the PM -- but there is no other interface to communicate with him. The president on the other hand, says "Write to me" and this pops up an email form. Both these sites are maintained by the National Informatics Centre -- indeed the URLs say so... but in this cyber age the PM's site at least, could do with some more imaginative content and easier interfaces with the people of India.

Meanwhile, Dr Kalam, has shifted most of his inspirational content to but when we checked today the button marked 'Knowledge Portal' -- something that remains his pet project -- leads to a dead end.