Sunday, April 3, 2011

QWIKI and the pace of the future

I'm beginning my discussion of Qwiki with a digression, as the internet has taught me that the quest for knowledge, like all great google journeys, starts from somewhere completely random.

The first time I watched Luc Besson's The Fifth Element I knew I would be happy to watch that film in succession for many years to come. I was entranced by the visual cadre of the film and fell in love with the chaotic, fantastical and imperfect futurism that his story projected. He brought together two of the biggest loves of my nerd life: Science Fiction and Fashion, employing the couturier Jean Paul Gaultier in his costume design, and casting Mila Jovovich as his lead female role.

When Jovovich's character attempts to learn the history of humanity, she is shocked by the images of  violence and destruction that she sees flashing before her on her screen. I have, since that time, wondered when our wiki sites would get to that level of technologically advanced interactive pedagogy. The Fifth Element came out in 1997 and in 2011, just 14 years later, we might be pretty close.

On my quest for photos of Lilya Birk, the muse of the Russian avant garde, I stumbled across Qwiki, a Silicon Valley startup that has garnered the attention and the investments of some of the best known visionaries in technology and communication - namely Eric Lefkofsky  (who made millions investing in Groupon), Jawed Karim (co-founder of youtube) and now Eduardo Saverin (Facebook guy whom you all know from The Social Network).

Whoever is in charge of their SEO is doing a fantastic job because two days ago, Qwiki was not anywhere near the top of the page. Today it was the second link down. So what the eff is Qwiki?

Qwiki is like a less detailed, multimedia version of Wikipedia. For each subject, it presents you with an interactive presentation with a visual time line, images of related topics and a very concise description that is read to you by a "read out loud" style computer voice. Through a series of complex algorithms, the site generates these videos on the fly, taking images from associated topics, historical periods, persons and subjects garnered from all over the web (probably mostly Wikipedia)

I was really impressed and now really addicted. And being the nerd that I am, I had to know everything about it. The site went public the week of January 24th, 2011 and Saverin was quoted to have called his new investment "a game changer". Indeed, Eduardo, indeed.

The aims for Qwiki go far beyond that of just an interactive Wikipedia. The site intends to allow people to create personal Qwiki's, probably drawing information, pictures, contacts and conversations from their many social networking platforms, allowing them to create interactive presentations of themselves.

The site also wishes to work with companies in order to create company Qwikis as interactive shorts, where I'm sure they will rake in the bajillions, as a great friend would say. As each new technology has redefined the capacity and the speed of knowledge sharing, this multimedia approach will move our society in directions that are yet to be seen. In an attempt to spare you from a Baudrillardian reading of this new development, please see my short history of Russian Constructivism with the help of Qwiki.
View Constructivism (art) and over 3,000,000 other topics on Qwiki.

View Alexander Rodchenko and over 3,000,000 other topics on Qwiki.

View Lilya Brik and over 3,000,000 other topics on Qwiki.

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