Internet is a global computer network that is
growing exponentially in recent years. More
than 25 million users from all over the world
are connected to this ubiquitous computing
and communication network. The Internet
enabled us to transfer digital files and
electronic mails with ease. Nonetheless, not
until the invention of World-Wide Web (WWW)
did we realize the great potential of the Internet.
Using state-of-the-art computer techniques, the
WWW allows presentation of multimedia
components such as text, picture, sound and
video on the Internet. The World-Wide Web
concept can potentially be a great tool to facilitate
the distribution of public health information, remote
medical education and even health care provision.
The Ministry of Education has invested heavily on Internet since the end of 1990 (and hence the establishment of TANet) because it recognized its potential impact on the provision of education. More than a few examples of utilizing WWW as an educational resource can be found on the net. One of the most prominent and the earliest sites in medical education is the Virtual Hospital project. Created by Galvin et al. from the department of radiology, University of Iowa. This website provides a wealth of healthcare information that are categorized into those for healthcare providers and for patients. Radiology multimedia textbooks, multimedia teaching files, patient simulations, clinical practice guidelines and many other Internet resources are available to healthcare providers. An On-line Iowa health book that covers a wide range of general health information is aimed at the general public in the Virtual Hospital site. This website can be reached by pointing the URL (Universal Resource Locator) to "http://vh.radiology.uiowa.edu/". Other successful medical website like Oncolink from the University of Pennsylvania (URL: http://cancer.med.upenn.edu/), the UMDS Radiology Teaching File from the University of London (URL: http://www.umds.ac.uk/) and the on-line Internal Medicine Course from the University of Alberta in Canada (URL: http://mendel.hgp.med.umich.edu/Home.html/) all provide very rich and diverse Internet resources that can be helpful in medical education.
However, not many dermatology resources can be found on the net. A set of electron microscopic pictures and a discussion forum are provided by the Mie University in Japan., a Dermatology Online Journal was established by the University of California Davis; and a dermatology image database was set up by the University of Erlangen in Germany. There has not been a dermatology website that would satisfy such a diverse need as proposed in the ADES. The establishment of the ADES does not only create a whole new Internet dermatological resource that can be beneficial for medical students, primary-care physicians, dermatologists and the public in terms of medical education, but also represents a structural approach that can be used in future effort to build Internet resources for other medical domains. Because of the vigorous growth and expansion of the Internet globally, the achievement of a country tends to depend partly on the amount of resource it can provide to the Internet community. The building of more quality medical resources on the net should be an important step, both scientifically and politically.