Reactions to Multimedia CD-ROMs By Dave Burkett For Networking and Multimedia Class (LIS 296) Over the last couple weeks, I have reviewed several multimedia titles (see list below) and w as disappointed in their presentation and content. To make full use of the technology and maintain my interest, I expect to see three important aspects in a multimedia CD-ROM: user interactivity, full multimedia presentation, and adequate transition spe ed. Interactivity: User Interactivity is a feature somewhat unique to multimedia and can be an tool for improving the delivery of the content, tailoring the message to the user, and maintaining interest in continuing to explore the virtu al world. A searchability feature is one means of tailoring the message unavailable in media such as newspapers, TV, books, and movies. I expectedThe Archives of History to have the capability for me to enter an event I wanted and be taken di rectly to it. Instead, I had to navigate a string of menus and scroll through the available topics. The home shopping CD-ROM, 2 Market, did incorporate an interesting search feature to let you enter the hobbies, characteristics, and your budget for a person on your shopping list and the program would return with a specialized video catalog of suggested items. Hypertext would also be a powerful means of allowing interactivity. For instance, a more powerful presentation in Archives wo uld have had a link from the video clip of the Challenger Crew entering the cockpit to the clip of the fateful explosion moments later. It is important for the interface design to be intuitive enough for the user to understand, and pleasing to the eye to keep the user's interest. At first, I had difficulty gaining access to the videos past 1900 in Archives, but they seemed to appear gradually as I used to program. A more clear interface for bringing in the videos would have helped me make more efficient use of the archive. The interface for 2 Market was very intuitive and attractive on the higher levels, but jumped to a crude looking text box at lower levels of the program. The contrast was distracting. Full Multimedia Pre sentation: A CD-ROM allows for complete use of sound, video, pictures, graphics, and motion. 2 Market was the only to make full use of the multimedia technology. It incorporated music videos, sound, demonstrations of software, and full co lor pictures of products. Archives relied entirely on Quicktime videos, even to the extent of panning across still photos from the early 20th century. I would have preferred to see the original still photos, leaving more space on the disk f or other information. Of course, I must comment on the crude quality of Quicktime movies. As advanced as the software is, there must still be significant progress before developers can present adequate speed and quality on a movie anything larger than a postage stamp. Great Cities of the World relied heavily on textual information. To me, text is much better presented in a paper format. People do not like reading long sections of text off a computer screen and using large amounts of text m isses the main benefit of multimedia. Speed: If the program cannot hold the user's interest, it doesn't matter how well it has accomplished the former areas. Maintaining speedy transitions seems to be a major factor in accomplishing thi s. Myst was especially poor at transitions. Even with running on a Power PC using the software's accelerated mode, it seemed to drag. I quickly grew bored and moved on. Conclusions: My expectation is that developers will gradua lly improve on the methods of delivering multimedia technology and the computer platforms will allow increasingly more powerful presentations. Multimedia Titles Reviewed for This Paper: The Archives of History, MPI Multimedia Great Cities of the World, Vol. 2, Interoptica's Multimedia Travel Guide Myst, Broderbund 2 Market, 2 Market, Inc.