One of the most buzzed about start-ups is Qwiki. This is a web application that will change the way most of us search and consume information. Qwiki has just opened its doors to the general public after refining its system during closed beta. Let’s have a peek inside this video information tool and see what all the buzz is about.
It Knows Millions Of Things
The way Qwiki works is simple. Maybe it’s too simple for some who have great expectations from a company which has just raised $8 million in funding. But sometimes great things come from simplicity.
In a sense, Qwiki is both a search engine and a curator for Wikipedia entries – and more. It will help you search for specific information, and it will collect the results in a visual list and create a video on the go summarizing those results – with computer generated female voice narration. Users can sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. Literally.
To start using Qwiki, put your search query into the “Enter A Topic” field.
You can also take another route: by browsing through the featured topics. They are grouped by several categories such as Daily Topic, Monuments, Natural Wonders, Animals, and Historical Figures.
If you’d like to expand your knowledge one article at a time, you can sign up to receive “Qwiki of the Day” emails.
That’s a brief overview of Qwiki. Now let’s get down to business.
The Multimedia Approach To Information
Entering a search query on Qwiki will give you an instant list of results. Pick one to view the collected information about that topic.
For example, I wanted to know more about Easter Island. I typed in the search query and clicked on the result. Qwiki immediately generated a video showing a general overview about Easter Island.
While the video shows you both related images and videos, an accompanying text will be shown below the video and a computer generated female voice will read the narration for you. It’s a truly “multimedia” experience which will appeal to both visual and auditory learners.
The volume control is available next to the video bar along with the replay button (Q plus), the hide/show text button (A), and the full screen button.
After the video ends, the screen will show you groups of information related to the topic that you’ve just searched for. Under the social pane, you’ll find links to more information on Wikipedia, Google, Fotopedia and YouTube.
To see the information from the summary video in a more traditional way, click the “Contents” tab.
Next to the “Contents” tab is the “Improve this Wiki” tab. You can help to improve Qwiki by contributing links to relevant pictures, suggesting YouTube videos, and pointing out mispronounced words on the video.
As with everything else on the web today, Qwiki is also social. You can easily share your searches on your social network via Facebook, Twitter, and/or email.
The social buttons are available at the top of the page under the search box and in the sidebar of the search result.
Qwiki also provides its users with a shortened link of their searches and the embed code so that users can easily attach the searches on their website.
To Sign Up Or Not To Sign Up, That’s The Question
At the top right corner of Qwiki, you can (barely) see a small “Sign Up | Login” link. Since Qwiki is already fully functional without the need to sign up, I assumed there would be some special privileges given to those who sign up for an account.
So I went through the signing up routine and created myself an account. It turns out that the difference between registered users and non-registered ones is a small message displaying how many Qwikis registered users have watched. I tried to click on the number with the hope of seeing a history of all the Qwikis that I’ve watched. But nothing happened.
I think it would be very cool if registered users had the ability to save their searches and to export them as videos to YouTube and to the hard drive for offline use.
Anyway, I found my Qwiki experience to be useful, fun, and entertaining. I would definitely put Qwiki on the list of places that I must visit to find quick references about things that I want to know.
Have you tried Qwiki? What do you think about it? Share your experiences and thoughts using the comments below.