Magazine article Information Today

Microsoft Releases Encarta Africana

Magazine article Information Today

Microsoft Releases Encarta Africana

Article excerpt

Microsoft Corp. and a group of leading African-American scholars have announced Microsoft Encarta Africana, a comprehensive multimedia reference resource on the history, geography, and culture of Africa and people of African descent. Before an audience of 3,000 influential black journalists at the annual National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) convention, the team announced the launch of this historical resource, scheduled for release in February 1999.

Henry Louis "Skip" Gates Jr., chairman of Afro-American Studies at Harvard University, is leading the collaboration with Microsoft in conjunction with his colleague, Kwame Anthony Appiah.

At the turn of the century, W.E.B. Du Bois, the leading African-American intellectual of the 20th century, proposed an ambitious dream to produce the first encyclopedia Africana--a comprehensive reference work on Africa and people of African descent throughout the world. The Encarta Africana multimedia encyclopedia is inspired by this vision.

"For the first time, the story of Africa and its people will be told in a way never before possible--through images, video, music, and text brought together in a unique experience," said Gates. "As the new millennium approaches, our research, combined with Microsoft's technology, is making Du Bois' dream a reality."

A Team Effort

In collaboration with Microsoft's expert editorial and technical teams, Afropaedia LLC will provide Encarta Africana's content, which will catalog the historical and cultural achievements of Africa and people of African descent from 4 million BCE (Before the Common Era) to the present.

Afropaedia is led by Gates and Appiah and comprises a distinguished team that includes scholars from Harvard University's department of Afro-American studies, the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research and the Committee on African Studies.

"We're breaking new ground with Encarta Africana," said Craig Bartholomew, learning business unit general manager at Microsoft. "When Gates and Appiah approached us with the idea for Encarta Africana, we were instantly intrigued. Microsoft is pleased to work side by side with the Afropaedia team to create this unprecedented multimedia resource. It's an exciting addition to our award-winning Encarta reference product line."

The Microsoft Encarta team, made up of several encyclopedia industry veterans from World Book Encyclopedia, Encyclopedia Britannica, and Grolier's Encyclopedia, will provide interactive technologies to incorporate the still images, video, audio, and 360-degree views that will make up Encarta Africana. …

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