Vol. IX, No. 1

May, 1996

Smithsonian's America - A Review

H. Eiteljorg, II

I looked at a new CD sent to us for review, though I thought the material would probably not be appropriate. It wasn't, and I would not have bothered to write a review but for the fact that this CD seems a perfect example of the entertainment CD as opposed to the educational or informational one.

The CD is Smithsonian's America, An Interactive Exhibition of Amerian History and Culture, from Creative Multimedia, 513 NW 13th Avenue, Suite 400, Portland, OR 97209.

This CD is appropriate for discussion here because of the presentation style, not the content, which is American History. It is based on an exhibition mounted by the Smithsonian.

There is no text, only spoken narration accompanying images from the Smithsonian collection. Captions can be shown for the images.

There is no index, and there are only very limited navigation choices. One may decide which topic to learn about, and sometimes a sub-topic. Once into the sequence of narration and images, though, the only choices are whether to stop the narration, move forward or backward, see or not see the captions, exit to the starting point, or quit. One cannot pursue one's own interests, check a reference or resource, or in any other way get beneath the prepared material. Nor can one return to a specific point of interest without retracing the steps first followed to reach that point.

This is television on a computer. It is not uninteresting, and some of the images are very impressive, but it is no more educational than a good television show - and no less passive an experience. I certainly hope we can do better with this technology than to ape the passivity of television.

For an index of other CD and Web site reviews available on the Web pages of the CSA Newsletter, see the review index.

Next Article: Workshop for Surveying and AutoCAD

Table of Contents for the May, 1996 issue of the CSA Newsletter (Vol. 9, no. 1)

Table of Contents for all CSA Newsletter issues on the Web

Return to CSA Home Page