Going nowhere fast

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The Independent Culture
Going nowhere fast

CD-Rom is a wonderful thing. Just like paper, only you can add movies, search text instantly and jump from reference to reference with the agility of a well-read mountain goat. The British Tourist Authority seems to have missed most of this: its Welcome to London CD-Rom, published by Open World, is as disappointing as getting to the Tate and finding it closed.

A collection of well over a 100 items of interest about London, it is divided into Heritage, Hotels, Arts, Shopping, Children, Sights and Dining. Most entries have a still picture, a map, some text and a short movie that illustrates the delights on offer.

However. The movies are around 20 seconds long, apparently made by some sort of half-trained gibbon with a Super 8, and accompanied by bursts of cod Handel. The texts are approximately 50 words apiece and the maps - well, these are adequate. Except the one for the London Underground, which is about three inches square and so out of focus it might have been produced by the Hubble Space Telescope on a bad day. Can you ask the CD- Rom for all hotels within 500 yards of a tube station? No. Can you get a list of restaurants graded by price? No. But then, with a mere 22 to choose from, you might not want to bother.

Not good enough, chaps. This disc might do passing service as an interactive distraction near a bureau de change, but as a source of information it is woefully under-supplied with the hard stuff. The idea is splendid and deserves much better.

Available in person from the British Travel Centre, 12 Regent St, W1 price £19.95 or by post (add £2 p&p) from the BTA (finance), Thame's Tower, Black's Rd, W6 9EL or by calling the credit card line on 0181-563 3294