Old CD’s: Games, Encyclopedia, Apps.

Reviews About Old Software on CD-ROM from the 1990’s

Circle of Knowledge April 16, 2009

According to the publishers, the Circle of Knowledge (Chestnut) is the first encyclopedia created especially for multimedia. Rather than using the standard alphabetical presentation for entries, they return to the earlier concept of presenting information by logical connections of content – ergo, a circle of knowledge. Unlike most encyclopedias, this two-disc set is not based on any existing text. That’s too bad. The content is extraordinarily lightweight. And it is one of the most arbitrary and confusing titles you’ll find. If you look up Hitler or Nixon in the Master Index, you won’t find them, but if you execute a “search”, you will. Others missing from the Master index are Freud, Nazi, Churchill, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Searching through the randomly organized content may bring up references to most of these topics, but forget Eleanor. She’s nowhere to be found. A paragraph on the space shuttle mentions “..how useful it will be to us in the 1980s.” Some sections, like “Explorations”, had a wealth of content, in sharp contrast to others like the “Interesting People Video” with clips of The Beatles, Charlie Chaplin, Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, and Orson Welles. We have no quarrel with the idea of a circular arrangement; one of the great things about this technology is the ability to access data from a myriad of sources by any route you can conceive. But you need the content and you need to have it all linked up so that there really can be a circle. The Circle of Knowledge fails in the execution of its grand design.

– May 1995

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