Web searching: Qwiki tells you about Wikipedia and more
January 27th, 2011 - 12:15 pm ET by J. G.
Now available as an alpha version, Qwiki offers a new interactive user experience for Web searching, primarily drawing information from Wikipedia.
After launching a private alpha version last October, Qwiki has now been opened up to the general public, although still as an alpha version with the service to still be perfected. This is a different Web searching site, although Qwiki has refused the title of search engine, instead preferring to be known as a new media format for consumer information.
For the moment Qwiki essentially draws the delivered information from Wikipedia. In a dedicated search field, the user enters a search request on a precise theme (3 million subjects currently available), opening up an interactive user experience.
As an example, a request on France will provide access to an article on Wikipedia (in English) which isn’t displayed in the traditional way but is instead read. A robotic voice has been programmed to provide narration, with this accompanied by a Google Maps location and pictures drawn from various sources. A Content tab will allow you to browse through the delivered information in a friendly way.
Working in a collaborative manner, Qwiki only requests that the user suggest improvements and which picture or YouTube video should be associated to each page and the quality of the audio. Qwiki can be scored, rated (e-mail, Facebook, Twitter) with a shortcut link offered so that it can be integrated into a Web page (see below). By the autumn, Qwiki will also be compatible with Smartphone’s and tablet PC’s.
Besides Wikipedia, Qwiki is also looking to draw content from other information sources, with the alpha site only being a demonstration platform for the technology to try and attract additional investment to build on the currently raised 9.5 million dollars. Among the investors we find Eduardo Saverin (co-founder of Facebook), Jawed Karim (co-founder of YouTube) and Pradeep Sindhu (co-founder of Juniper Networks).
Qwiki’s technical director is Louis Monier, who co-foundered Qwiki. He is known for being the founder of AltaVista and also had influence at eBay and Google. He was briefly associated with the Cuil search engine which finally died at the end of 2010.