Sunday, December 20, 2009

Review - Glo Bible for a Digital World

In addition to "The Search for God and Guinness" Amazon sent me a review copy of a powerful new software package - "Glo. The Bible for a Digital World".  Glo is a new way to interact with the Bible that brings it life with HD video, maps, photos, 360-degree virtual tours, and a ton of other information and media. It comes on DVD-ROM and runs on Windows XP/Vista/7. It's really quite an amazing product, by Immersion Digital and published by Zondervan in October 2009.

Glo has five "lenses" through which you can view all this material. There's the most common "Bible" lens, featuring the popular NIV translation (and the KJV) with related resources and media. The "Atlas" view cover the geography and landmarks of the Holy Land, with quite a bit of video and special photos. The "Timeline" considers the Bible from a chronological perspective with a zoomable interface. The "Topical" lens covers verses and material for thousands of subjects, from a variety of scholars and experts. Finally the "Media" lens lets you browse biblical content according the media type of interest.

The installation and computer requirements are not for the timid however! You'll need over 18 GB of hard drive space, 1-2 GB of RAM, a dual core processor, and a better than average video graphics card with DirectX 9 support (!)  The installation took hours, and the whole time I was waiting for some error or problem or series of reboots. Thankfully, none of those appeared, and it went uneventfully. At this point I was thinking "This better be good" but expectations were pretty low, given the sad state of many other 'reference' or 'study tools' I've seen.

So what did I think after running it? I was immediately blown away. The amount of material on here is simply enormous. One of the first rabbit trails I explored was a 360-virtual tour of Capernaum, a fishing village on the Sea of Galilee and home to several of the apostles. Not only could you "walk through" the streets of Capernaum and explore the multilayered house of St. Peter, but you could see the town in both modern time and in biblical times. The resolution and detail was amazing. Some other pluses: the timeline, maps, videos, and the overall ease of exploring cross-references. You can find something under one lens and go explore elsewhere if you find something interesting. Also, there's new information that is added all the time (says their web site). One other thing I thought was great: it's licensed for legal installation on THREE of your own computers, e.g. on your home desktop, laptop, and that user's computer at work.

Some things that might be a problem for some users: the help system is fairly sparse, installation (and uninstallation) are non-trivial, and it's a huge install, weighing in far larger than the operating system! The reason for this is that it unpacks everything off the DVD, and makes use of a well-designed updating system to make sure that the application and materials remain up to date.

Bottom line? A fascinating approach to Bible study that will be a big hit to visually-oriented people with a relatively powerful computer. If you're the type of person who likes to surf around the web, goes to the Wikipedia to look up one thing and ends up reading about a half-dozen, you'll really like Glo. It's hard to describe the details or interface, but fortunately there is extensive information on the Glo website including a number of demo and tutorial videos, and a one-page summary sheet. If you're at all interested, definitely check out the Glo video walkthrough. Glo is available at Amazon and other retailers.


Dr. Matt J. Carlson said...

Sounds pretty cool. What does it retail for?

Larry Baxter said...

It lists for $79 but sells in retail for about $50. I can show you after small group some time.