The CD-ROM, From Alice to Ocean, was a unique type of documentary accounting the sole journey of Robyn Davidson across the Australian desert and outback to her final destination to the Indian Ocean. Accompanied only by her camels and dog, photographer Rick Smolan went along the journey to capture the beauty and wonder of this most fascinating journey.
This was my first CD-ROM experience and I found the interface easy to use. I enjoyed the background music of drums because it seemed to put me in the midst of Robyn's journey. The Main Menu, which was a map of her journey divided in six parts, allowed you to chose whether you wanted to start with Robyn or in a sense make a whole new journey of your own by clicking to the right box. Because I was new, I decided to go to the Sidebar Menu first to explore my options. Here, I had again six options to obtain background knowledge about Australia. I chose to further see and hear about Aboriginal Culture, Outback Wildlife, and Ayers Rock.
The first part of the journey began at Alice and Robyn seemed to have wanted to make me a part of her journey also. She included a quote from Tom Robbins in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues which was supposed to make me feel like I was the "navigator" also. What I didn't expect were the breath taking photos of the landscape. The photographer Rick seemed to have done his best to get a good angle, the right type of light and reflection that all culminated and created a mood in you. His pictures of Robyn were intimate, beautiful portraits of this strong, young, woman doing what men have failed to do. The pictures of her embracing her camel was probably one of my favorites. It showed her human side of caring, loving, vulnerability, fear, and attachment. Along with Robyn's own narrative account of what happened, the pictures and her voice made quite a pairing. The only problem was that if I liked a picture, it only had a certain lapse period, and then it would disappear. The only way I could go back to it would be to start again from one of the specific parts.
Another interesting aspect was the small video clips of Rick's photojournalistic observations of the trip. There were little icons on a few photos where one could click on and Rick would give a photo tip on how he got that particular shot. It was interesting because I realized that what I saw of Robyn's journey were really through the interpretive eyes of Rick. It's comparable to a magician divulging the secrets of his magic trick. Somehow, we are to believe that it was Robyn's journey alone and this just shows that Rick also was there and got something out of the whole experience also.
Overall, I found the CD-ROM to be an informative source, rather than
"interactive". Although it was nice that I could jump to certain topics and
repeat certain sections, I didn't use the tool bar too much because I found
that I didn't like interrupting the narrative story. I would have liked to
have seen a short video clip of Robyn as she is today further expressing her
feelings on the trip (since I believe that her journey through the desert was
about 13-14 years ago). I believe that I really learned a lot from the
experience--about CD-ROMs and the Australian Outback. I think that
educational/documentary software such as this presents the material in a much
more exciting "personal" format that brings learning and entertainment together.