Dear attendee of the XVI International Botanical Congress,

what is this? Has the XVI IBC broken with the honourable tradition of printing?

No, it has not. But we have convinced the congress that it is a good idea to publish the abstracts on CD-ROM, too. This offered us the chance to present scientific internet projects and initiatives, among them our own one, Botany online - The Internet Hypertextbook, to you. So, in a way is this CD-ROM a Trojan horse, a good-natured one, though.

When searching the Internet, we found a large number of projects all with the same goal - to present scientific knowledge to students, teachers and scientists throughout the world. This goal has been pursued according to personal intentions, different educational levels and local university requirements, but all projects presented on this CD-ROM cover approaches to botany and related topics.

The goal we pursued with this CD is to consolidate existing www biological science teaching and research sites. Its aim is, too, to create and distribute original multimedia resources for the teaching of biology, and especially to increase the understanding of basic plant biology - we agree with the statement of P. Raven, the president of the congress, that "plants hold the genetic keys to enhanced quality of life today, and they will help us determine if life will be worth living tomorrow".

Our CD is not restricted to information units that were developed in accordance with conventional teaching processes in schools and universities. We have also issued projects, programs and organizations that are devoted to applied research projects, to community workshops, and to the exchange with botanists from developing countries, as exemplified by the "People and Plants" initiative, or the St. Louis based "International Center for Tropical Ecology ".

The internet offers scientific information to groups of people that never would have a chance to obtain this information being organized in a conventional way. At increasing rates is scientific knowledge compiled in fast-growing, internationally operating databases that we believe will develop into the ultimate sources of scientific information. It is thus inevitable that internet teaching develops guidebooks that facilitate the access to the compiled data. In contrast to the internet represents a CD-ROM a "status quo". It is an ideal medium to secure and conserve knowledge and to revive biological classics.

Internet teaching may seem like a virtual world, but it always depends on responsible persons who want to transmit their knowledge. We have therefore invited a number of colleagues to contribute to this CD-ROM, and we feel honoured that we received so many permissions, so much support and confidence in our project. We wish to thank all authors and persons being responsible for web-projects who enabled us to issue this CD. Our special thanks go to P. Hoch, Secretary General of the XVI IBC for his continuos support during the realization phase of this CD-ROM. We thank P. Moller Jorgensen for providing us with the compiled abstracts of contributions presented at the congress and K. Stüber from the Max-Planck-Institut für Züchtungsforschung in Cologne for converting them into html files.

Thank you!

Alice Bergfeld - Rolf Bergmann - Peter v. Sengbusch