Trade union websites, including those of teachers’ unions, are about to enter their third generation.
Archive for January, 2003
It’s one thing to have a website that a few hundred or thousand members of your union visit. It’s quite another to have a newswire service of your own, with your content appearing simultaneously on dozens — or hundreds — of other websites.
No one really knows how many people are connected to the Internet these days but one good estimate is about 300 million. How many of these are trade unionists? Here one would only be guessing, but the number is certainly in the millions and probably tens of millions.
From what I have seen so far, trade union websites are generally not reaching union members online. They often reach astonishingly small numbers of people.
A very long time ago (in Internet time, that is), websites were designed and maintained by people known as “webmasters”. These were the people who had the skills that organizations needed if they wanted a presence on the world wide web. They learned arcane languages like HTML and created literally millions of web pages.
Eric Lee is one of the world’s leading experts on trade unions and the Internet.
His 1996 book, The Labour Movement and the Internet, published by Pluto Press, was the first in its field.
The website he founded in 1998, LabourStart, remains the leading international trade union website.
In addition to co-ordinating the LabourStart project, Eric Lee provides a number of consulting and design services for the trade union movement in Britain and internationally.