Encarta Africana, Third Edition

Publisher Site: 
ESRB Rating: 
OS Compat: 
Windows 95 / 98 / NT / 2000 / Me
System Requirements: 
Multimedic with Pentium 133 MHz or higher processor; 32 MB of RAM for Windows 95/98/NT/Me, or 64 MB for Windows 2000 Professional; Up to 155 MB of available hard-disk space; CD-ROM drive; Super VGA, 256-color or higher monitor supporting 640x480 or higher resolution; Local bus video with 1 MB or more of video memory; and 16-bit sound card.
Publication Date: 
List Price: 
Short Review: 
Edited by Harvard University professors Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., this is an impressive, comprehensive, interactive, multimedia-rich resource on Africa, the African Diaspora, and the African American experience.
Long Review: 
In 1909, W.E.B. DuBois proposed the creation of a comprehensive encyclopedia of the African and African American experience. His dream was finally realized with the publication of the definitive <I>Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience</I>, and now its multimedia digital counterpart, <I>Encarta Africana</I>. Making brilliant use of multimedia capabilities, this easily navigable resource is filled with interactive features, images, and sound. Almost everywhere you click, you come across sound clips, video clips, still photos, maps, and interactive timelines. But this resource is not all glitz with no substance – there is a wealth of textual information as well. The heart of this encyclopedia are the signed articles (which incorporate multimedia features), and the “Library of Black America,” which contains the complete texts of 120 works by people of African descent, written between 1773 and 1918, including slave narratives, biographies, fiction, poetry, and nonfiction – such as Booker T. Washington’s <I>Up From Slavery, The Narrative Live of Frederick Douglass</I>, and poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar. <p>Other interactive and multimedia features include: a chronology of the American Civil Rights movement, an historical timeline from prehistory to 1999, and a music timeline which appears as a panorama slowly moving across your screen – and as it moves through time, you can hear a continuous array of African and African American music as it has changed, from the spirituals of the Fisk Jubilee Singers in the 1870s to the R&B rap of Lauryn Hill in the 1990s; maps of Africa and the transatlantic slave trade; fascinating video tours of historic sites in Africa, such as Timbuktu and Great Zimbabwe; and 360° virtual tours of important areas, like Harlem, New York.</p> <p>The layout and organization of information is clear and navigation is simple, making it possible to zero in on a desired topic, or to simply follow the interesting paths created by the multimedia linking. For guided tours on a diverse array of topics, you can go on a “Topic Trek” and explore articles and multimedia presentations gathered on people, places, ideas, music and sports. The only feature that I find less successful is the “Web Center,” in which links are provided to web sites on a topic you’re reading about. A very cursory exploration of these lead to dead links roughly 50% of the time, a condition that will likely only worsen with time.</p> Edited by Harvard University professors Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., this is an impressive, comprehensive, interactive, multimedia-rich resource on Africa and African peoples, from the emergence of humans in Africa over 4 million years ago, to the era of forced migration through slavery, to the diaspora at the end of the 20th century. It is also available as part of the <I>Microsoft Encarta Reference Suite 2001</I> on DVD.
Lauren Mayer
ESRB rating?
Large image: