May 12, 2003

Erasing old boundaries:
Web access opens doors

Alan Cattier is director of the academic technolgies group of the Information Technology Division.

It’s that time of year when Emory starts slowing down and the campus begins emptying, as faculty and students make their way to distant points around the globe. Whether they are returning home, studying abroad or researching away from campus, Clifton Road becomes just one address amongst many.

This mass migration from campus used to mean leaving behind Emory’s electronic universe of e-mail, file sharing and digital research tools, as well. At best, displaced faculty and students fumbled with modem settings in far-off lands, hoping to get a connection to Emory and access to the tools they needed. At worst, the material simply wasn’t available.

That world has changed. Emory faculty, staff and students who have e-mail accounts on the Information Technology Division’s (ITD) servers now can access their e-mail via the World Wide Web. Available at, Webmail allows access to your inbox, online folders and an address book through any Internet browser. Whether sipping an espresso at a cyber café in Paris or accessing the web in a colleague’s office in Tokyo, all you need is this address.

File sharing has been radically simplified as well. Recently, ITD announced a new service, Emory Webdrive, that allows users to store files in a personal web directory accessible from anywhere in the world. Users can set up folders, add and delete files, and access those files and folders using simple commands—all through a web browser.

To learn how to use the new service, visit All faculty, staff and students have pre-created accounts that are synchronized with their Emory network IDs and passwords. Faculty and graduate students have 50 megabytes of disk space; undergraduate students and staff automatically receive 20 megabytes.

What is particularly exciting about Emory Webdrive is that it not only breaks down the technical and geographical boundaries for file sharing, it also allows colleagues and/or students to collaborate between different locations. For instance, within Webdrive, an Emory account holder can identify a non-Emory colleague in California as having permission to review a document or presentation for a fixed period of time. Once that time period is over, the document is no longer accessible for that individual.

Group space also is available on Emory Webdrive. Individual departments can request up to a gigabyte of space for research projects and initiatives. Collaboration from across campus or across the country can be enabled with data sets, presentations, images and documents—all “shareable” with anyone who has been given appropriate permission.

Finally, in the “olden days,” many databases offered by Emory’s libraries were accessible only on campus or through the University modem pool. Now, the Information Gateway ( overcomes this limitation and allows faculty, students and staff to use their Emory personal ID to access resources from any location with web access. Whether the need is for a Medline abstract or a definition from the Oxford English Dictionary, hundreds of databases now are available online. In addition, thousands of full-text electronic journals are available through the libraries’ eJournals database at

The World Wide Web has been widely available for less than 10 years. In that short time, it has changed the way people find news, track finances, arrange travel and research information. With Webmail, Emory Webdrive, the Information Gateway and the eJournals database, those changes now reach deep into the scholarly world. Whatever your summer travel plans, Emory’s virtual home will be just one click away.