Prime Minister Tony Blair today faced questions on topics ranging from the high price of petrol to his computer game playing ability, during an hour long online chat to kick off ecommerce week.
But many users reported having difficulty accessing the chat and the number of people who took part is believed to have been low. vnunet.com counted around 60 participants at any one time.
A spokeswoman for bun.com, the ISP that organised the session, refused to say how many people took part, but claimed it was many times more than 60. Bun.com also confirmed that some users had reported trouble accessing the session, due to high demand.
While most participants took advantage of rare direct access to quiz the PM about topical issues - rail safety, fox hunting, the beef feud with France and the state of the health service - some used the medium to pose high tech questions.
One school student was promised that the answer to his question - how long it would be before his school was linked to the Internet - would be emailed from Downing Street.
Blair also enthused about the potential for online communication to reduce the gruelling travel itinerary of today's politician.
"I think we will get to the situation where we'll hold more conferences on the Internet - where you don't actually have to meet," he told participants.
"How much of our time is spent travelling across the world for meetings, and then travelling back again. People forget how incredibly tiring these schedules can be."
While acknowledging it could not replace face to face communication entirely, Blair said the Net could also be used more widely for official communication within the European Union.
"There's a fantastic amount of transaction that goes on," he said.
A self-confessed techno-virgin and two finger typist, Blair employed the services of a touch typist to transcribe his thoughts.
He fielded a total of 35 questions during the session, many of them sent in advance.
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