The world at your fingertips

2nd May 1997 at 01:00
1997 WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA INTERNATIONAL EDITION (Pounds 49.99) is available for multimedia PCs (Windows 95 or 3.1). Tel: 01734 773423.

World Book and IBM have launched the international edition of the 1997 World Book Multimedia Encyclopedia. This double CD-Rom contains more than 8,000 illustrations, 134 videos, 44 animations and 17,500 articles - in fact the complete text of the print version.

The interface has been overhauled and modernised. But the work retains the subdued colours and simple but elegant visual style that younger students find so attractive and which makes navigation simple and intuitive. Menus and drop-down options make information easy to access and retrieve.

Users may have reservations about the double-CD format. But the need to change CDs has been kept to a minimum. The second disc contains many of the longer videos - the excellent account of the life and times of Mohandas Gandhi is several minutes long - and the Quick Time Virtual Reality, which gives the viewer 360-degree views of sites such as Stonehenge and the Eiffel Tower. For budding morticians and taxidermists, one of the highlights will be the animated and extremely realistic account of embalming in ancient Egypt. And it is all part of the national curriculum.

World Book has comprehensive Internet links and comes with software for connecting to the IBM Global Network. It works equally well with Web browsers such as Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Explorer. More than 3,000 articles from the World Book archives, dating back to 1922, are available from the Web site (see right). Other on-line features include an update facility, which not only downloads material but integrates it into the relevant article, and more than 1,200 Web sites linked to articles. There is also an on-line library that contains feature articles.

Among the help features are a dictionary that can be activated by clicking on any word in the encyclopedia, and electronic "sticky notes", allowing users to paste comments directly into articles for bookmarking or cross-referencing. There is also a "highlighting" facility, which can be used to emphasise important information.

World Book Web site: http:www.worldbook.com

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