Analysis of Multimedia Program

by Sarah Awood

For my multimedia CD ROM project, I looked at The Complete Annotated Alice. I choose this program in particular because as an Undergraduate student, we used the book The Complete Annotated Alice as one text for an English Literature/History/Woman's Studies course. I thought it would be interesting and helpful to compare and contrast the use of the book and the multimedia program.

The first thing that struck me as interesting was how the program imitates the reading of a book. For example, it provides the reader with the opportunity to mark pages by dog-earing them or putting a paper clip on them. You can also mark passages with lines or type your own notes in the margin.

There are also some really nice features with the program that you do not get with the book. For example, you can search for any word or phrase in the text or margin notes. This is a very handy feature, because I make notes all the time and then forget where I made them. In addition, you can copy direct quotes from the text into a "notebook." This is a helpful feature if you are writing a paper, because you can use the direct quotation without having to re-type it. There is also a feature of the program which allows you to change the text to large print. This is especially helpful for people with poor sight.

The preface to this program made some interesting points that are important to consider in analyzing this program. At one point the preface says the "Mad Tea Party" was one of the earliest examples of a "virtual reality." I never had thought of this analogy before, but it really seems to apply. The way Alice in Wonderland is written allows each chapter to be a story in itself that does not have to be read sequentially to be enjoyable. This allows the reader to enjoy the text in any way he/she choose. The computer program facilitates moving around in any order you choose. It is interesting that a "classic" story can be so well adaptable to modern technology, such as hypertext.

I liked how the annotations to the text were handled. Any word or phrase that has a note associated with it is underlined. You can click on the underlined text and the note is displayed. In the copy of the book that I have, the notes are in the margins. This is not too bad, but the print of the notes is pretty small. This feature would be nice for other books that I have read where the annotations are at the end of the book, and every time you want to look something up, you have to find the right page at the end of the book. It is convenient to be able to just click on the text and get the note you need.

In general, I found the program pretty easy to use. It took a few minutes to locate where all the menus and options were located, but once I did, it was easy to navigate. I assume that the disk comes with printed instructions, but they were not included in the copy from Reserves. I think with the instructions this would be a very accessible program for even someone without much computer experience. It is also kind of fun to use, which makes it seem less like work. While reading, you can try out some of the marking and search features and the whole thing becomes like a game. AlthoughThe Annotated Alice was designed for children, I think similar programs would be great for children, especially those that do not think they like to read.

I think it would be interesting for a college professor or high school teacher to use the program The Annotated Alice as one of the class texts. It might be something different for the students and it might be fun for them to compare how they liked this program compared with other traditional texts that they use in the class.