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Making the Web presidential

Ladies and gentlemen, live on the Internet, the president of the United States. Brought to you by Sun Microsystems.

If you're reading this now, then you can attend the presidential inauguration.

William Jefferson Clinton's solemn oath will be carried live Monday on the Net courtesy of Sun Microsystems(SUNW), which is supplying the expertise, the servers and the Java software for the Inaugural Web Site.

And that's just the beginning of what promises to be the highest-tech Presidential nomination ever. If you happen to be in Washington, you can go to a special tent on the mall and send email to the president or chat with other Netizens about the inauguration via The Palace. The inaugural site also will feature what it's calling a "Web-U-Mentary" featuring hourly updates of photos, footage and events from D.C.

The Inaugural site and accompanying events join a whole host of other major events this year as an Internet first. The Internet is increasingly being used as an alternative to television when it comes to live events, making events available to anyone anywhere in the world with a computer, a modem and Net access.

The inauguration also provides more evidence that the Net is being increasingly used as a political vehicle. In fact, so many people logged into the Internet last election day that many Web sites reported record-breaking traffic.

Officials running the Inauguration site expect 5,000 simultaneous audio and video feeds.

The Webcast will broadcast live the swearing-in ceremony beginning at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday January 20th from the West Front of the U.S Capitol.

"The Internet has already proved an effective tool in making government more accessible to people," wrote Anil Gadre, vice president of worldwide marketing for Sun. "This is another great example of its power in bringing citizens closer to the events which have an impact on their lives."

The real-time streaming technologies, developed by Graham Technology Solutions, require no plug-ins and nothing on the client side other than browser software.

Other technology companies also are using the inauguration to show off their goods. For instance: Digital Evolution will produce the Technology Playground-- a multimedia center on the National--in Washington on Saturday and Sunday.

The exhibit will be housed in a 213-by-118-foot inflatable tent and will include interactive exhibits and future technology demonstrations. Speakers will also discuss their visions of how technology will enhance our lives in the next millennium.

It also will allow people on- and off-site to send their personal messages and hopes and dreams for the future to President Clinton, Vice President Gore and their families. Those messages will be displayed in a three-dimensional interactive display. And users in the tent will be able to chat with Netizens at The Palace.