World Book 1997 Multimedia Encyclopedia
The World Book 1997 Multimedia Encyclopedia CD-ROM (IBM/World Book) represents the first significant improvement in multimedia encyclopedias since Microsoft?s Encartadefined the playing field several years ago. The big three CD-ROM encyclopedias ? Encarta, Grolier, and Compton?s ? have all followed similar formulae which involve compromising the amount and quality of information on the disc so some gee-whiz multimedia can be tacked on (otherwise, they figure, why bother putting it on CD-ROM)? The results have been entertaining but lightweight. The World Book 1997 Multimedia Encyclopedia changes the rules. The entire print version of the World Book is included here, which puts it head and shoulders above the competition with respect to content, but there?s more than just the quantity of information to recommend this product. The concept of the CD-ROM encyclopedia has been rethought at a basic level; World Book is much more user-friendly than the competition, even as it provides more power. For the first time ? for example — we are warned in advance that we will have to switch discs to access certain bits of multimedia (a small but extremely thoughtful detail that should be a common feature). Browsing this disc is more like browsing a real book than ever before; choose the “Just Looking” function to, in effect, throw the encyclopedia on a table and flip it open to a random page. Article outlines are always available, along with a list of related articles, quick facts, and a “time frame” (not quite as linear as a timeline) that keeps things in context. A complete dictionary built into the disc guarantees that every single word of text can be defined. Online extras add something substantial to the experience, for a change. The “World Book Plus” section of the disc is updated every time you log on (using your hard drive to store the additional information), and the site itself (www.????) boasts some fascinating features, including only slightly-revised older versions of the World Book Encyclopedia. Reading a 1925 take on jazz sheds a kind of light on the music that a 1997 retrospective can?t hope to capture. Fans of multimedia also get their money?s worth with this disc ? virtual environments, interactivities, and educational games fill out the usual complement of audio, pictures and movies. With any luck this World Book 1997 Multimedia Encyclopedia will raise the standards across the industry, and set the competition to designing an even better CD-ROM encyclopedia for 1998.
– January 1997