Earlier today, my friends were raving about JJ Cale and the soulfulness of his music. Unfortunately, I had no clue regarding who the heck JJ Cale is. So what did I do? I whipped out my phone, and ran a Wikipedia search for Cale using Opera Mobile. Wikipedia might not be accurate enough for academic purposes, but its utility as a reference site is unquestionable. However, reading up an encyclopaedia article spanning several thousand words is neither the most efficient nor the most natural way to get an overview of any subject. Enter Qwiki.
Some of you might have already heard of Qwiki, since it got a lot of press coverage for winning TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco ’10. Qwiki describes itself as a new information experience. It wants to tell a story, a quintessentially human way to experience information, instead of just dishing out a collection of facts. TechCrunch described it as a “movie highlight reel of Wikipedia pages”, and that’s what it is. Enter a topic you want to know more about, and Qwiki will present the basic facts in a neatly put together slideshow of images and text accompanied by a computer generated voiceover. Qwiki is currently in closed beta, so the embedding of the videos is currently disabled. However, you can get an idea about the service from the video embedded below.
Update: I just realsed that can actually view a Qwiki without logging in. Here’s a Qwiki on M. K. Gandhi.
Each video or presentation itself is called a Qwiki, and for now, there are just over two million of them. The breadth of topics covered is quite impressive. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Qwiki even had information on Asansol, my home city. Although a Qwiki won’t make you an expert on any topic, most of them have enough depth to help you gain a meaningful overview of the subject matter. Even better, the Qwikis are interlinked. So, you can keep hopping from one Qwiki to another Qwiki, in Wikipedia style.
A snapshot of the Qwiki on J J Cale
I am amongst those who were rooting for CloudFlare to win the TC Disrupt, and after having used Qwiki for a couple of weeks, I still maintain that CloudFlare should have won. Qwiki is intuitive, entertaining, addictive and fun. However, it’s hardly disruptive in the manner Soluto can become with its PC Genome Technology, or CloudFlare can become with its CDN for everyone approach. I would have also liked to have Qwiki as an app on my phone, as it is a fun and useful way to pass time while travelling. However, for now it’s a web only service. Worse still, it utilises Flash, which puts it beyond the reach of iPhone and iPad users (and even a majority of Android users, since Flash requires at least Android 2.2).
Qwiki is currently in closed alpha. This means that there might be some bugs (I noticed that some of the Qwikis refuse to load), and you will need an invitation to get in. If you want to take it for a spin, I can help you out with an invite. Here’s what you need to do:
Either, subscribe to my newsletter and leave a comment using the same email address.
Or, follow me on Twitter and let me know by leaving a comment.
(Doing any one of the above is sufficient)
I don’t want to keep doing this forever, so just make sure that you get in your invite request before 14th November.