Why a Qwiki will probably be a success

Tue, Feb 1, 2011

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="303" caption="Photo credit: chris.corwin"]ADD poster[/caption]

We are losing our attention span. ADHD-like symptoms seem to sweeping the world.

  • We want our food fast
  • We want all service to be fast
  • We want our websites to load fast.
  • We need to do something with every minute in our day.
  • We do not like to wait for anything more than a few seconds.
  • We don't read anything longer than a sentance
  • We leave when there's a line anywhere
This is most apparent on the interwebs. While a few years ago, you could expect people on the internet to actually go ahead and read an entire article that interested them, now a days you can hardly expect them to read more than the headline. Then they're gone.

I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but I really feel the nature of the way we think and process information is changing.

Qwiki: Content 2.0

Qwiki is basically an encyclopedia presented with audio and video instead of text. It has recently launched and is currently in "alpha" mode, but looks surprisingly polished. You should go check out the site.

The way I see it is this: Wikipedia isn't a very "sexy" user experience. It's dull looking, you usually access it through search engines and the entries are usually filled with a lot of text. With the aforementioned attention disorders, it's simply not very engaging.

However, Qwiki's entries are auditory and visual and you can consume them completely without reading anything. You can also simply listen to them in the background.

I looked up a few countries I want to visit one day: ThailandSwitzerlandJapan. Some bands I like these days: Fleet foxes, Washed Out and a few other things I've wanted to look up.  To me it works really well because you get images and videos mixed together so you can really get a sense and feel for a particular topic, while on Wikipedia you only get the most basic, dried out version of what you look up.

Qwiki's entry about India

Qwiki got a lot of criticism for not bringing all that much to the table in terms of technology and that they got a pretty high valuation on a recent investment led by Eduardo Saverin.

I think the technology argument might be true up to a point, but honestly, what hacker couldn't duplicate the base functionality of a twitter of foursquare in an afternoon? I think the inherent value isn't actually with the technology itself but with the implementation, the data, the UI and, ultimately (so it seems), the company's dedication to packaging information in a more-easy-to-consume fashion.

Mediums they are a changing

The main reasons why I think Qwiki will be a success is because of two trends:
  • Internet connected TVs are coming Qwiki will work incredibly well on an internet connected TV screen. Who can picture themselves reading a Wikipedia articles with their spouse, in the living room, off the TV? Not me. But if I'm going to, say.. Oslo I could very well imagine myself looking up and listening/watching with my SO while in a middle of a conversation.
  • Mobile use Mobile internet use is up and the consumer behaves totally differently on a mobile device than on a traditional "internet device" (ie. a computer). Ever since I got my HTC desire I constantly google stuff by doing a voice search. I have to use my best american accent to pull it off, but none the less, it's very useful. If my search result could be a visual/auditory search result like Qwiki provides, it would suite some use cases much better.
I'm not saying Wikipedia is going away. In some ways I think Wikipedia is a much better result, simply because it becomes easier to drill down and find out all the information you need. But I think Qwiki, or some other startup that can crack the nut better, is here to stay.

The future is here.