It is common practice to trail website launches with a page on the Web saying the site is under construction. This may look half-hearted and it may seem strange to alert competitors what is to come. The great potential is the 'woodwork effect'. Once you put even such an insubstantial twig in the sand, people of similar interest appear from the woodwork and start talking about cooperation. Such partnerships are very much part of the Web scene, helping to create critical mass, spreading the often considerable costs of creating Web-based services and speeding development by avoiding reinventing wheels.
An interesting example is www.construction.co.uk. Though owned by the Steel Construction Institute (SCI), this one-page website is a statement of co-operative intent between SCI, the Building Services Research and Information Association (BSRIA), the Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA), the Timber Research and Development Association (TRADA) and the Concrete Society. The page encourages the woodwork effect - these member-based research organisations welcome collaboration with others who have similar aims.The launch is planned for September.
The partners are in a good position to provide up-to-date good practice guidance and accumulated research knowledge. They also plan an informal quality assurance scheme for information, from 'grade 1' down to 'grade 4', where information looks useful but cannot be vouched for. These partners have the credibility to create a trusted QA scheme - an island of some certainty among the mass of variable quality information on the Web.
DETR is putting some money into the venture to encourage the organisations to work together. There will be document sales. The rest will be self-financed as part the partners'view of their emerging role in the Web age. Finding information should be easier in future.