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Microsoft's Encarta has long been one of the most popular encyclopedias available on the PC. Now we finally have Encarta Africana, which focuses on the history, geography and culture of people of Africana descent worldwide. Here are some of the features:
Installation And Settings
Encarta Africana fits on just the two CD's compared to the full version of Encarta, which comes on a rather large 5 CD's or the single DVD. Installation is very simple, it is just a case of following through the instructions that are in the manual when you purchase it. Once the installation is complete you are ready to delve into Encarta Africana
Encarta Africana Itself
The first screen you will come across is the one shown above. From here you can access the main parts of Encarta Africana 2000:
I began my browsing via the "Find" icon at the top left of the Encarta browser, in my view this is the easiest and fastest way of finding out information, all you need to do is to enter a few words such as "Muhammad" and a number of articles relating to someone with that name will appear on the sidebar in a matter of seconds. Once I had found a name I was looking for "Muhammad Ali" for example, I would click on his name and a new contents area would load up in the Encarta Browsers main window, from here you can get to introductions about Ali, photos, web searches and Ali's great moments in sport.
Remember though that these kinds of large-scale information pieces are not just for big name African Americans, but also for lesser known people (to me) such as Sonny Liston (Another boxer) and Philip Randolph. Another point is that the large content pages are also not just for people, they can be for places, religions, sports music etc...there are a whole load of them to choose from and to read through.
The next section I visited was the "Africa On Camera" (Shown above) area, which is based in the features part of Encarta Africana. This area consists of a number of videos, which are narrated by some very famous people such as Kofi Annan, secretary general of the United Nations, Comedienne Whoopi Goldberg and Colin Powell, each video lasts 3-4 minutes and each one was very interesting to listen through.
Next we have the Civil Rights Chronology, from here you can read all about the Civil Rights Movement between the years of 1950 and 1968, again there are links to articles, video clips, music to listen to and photos to glance over in this section, yet another interesting read.
Finally we have the "Library Of Black America" (Shown Below), which is the main new addition to Encarta Africana, it contains over 140 pieces of work written by African-Americans prior to 1918 and there are pages and pages of work to read through here. The library ranges from novels, slave narratives to poetry and other works.
There are many, many more sections that you can go through that I have not mentioned in my review such as Historic Sites In Africa, African Maps, Africa To The Americas but a lot of these are similar in style to the Encarta 2000 release that came out not so long ago. As usual with Encarta there are a number of excellent links to websites that you will come across for example, if you were looking at an actors information in Encarta Africana you could click on a link that would take you to the Internet Movie Database to find out even more about that particular person.
Encarta Africana is another excellent encyclopedia release from Microsoft, there is yet again so much here to go through that it would take many, many pages to talk about it all, the new additions to Encarta Africana such as the Music timelines and the Library of Black America are all worthy of a new release. Everything is well written (Despite one slight mistake that I found) and superbly designed and most importantly, easy to get to.
A great encyclopedia about African Americans that should be checked out by everyone interested in African American history.