Sonntag, 30. Januar 2011

Qwiki: the information experience and the problem of context

The company Qwiki had the opportunity to present at Techcrunch a new "information experience". A “Qwiki” is a short, interactive story: a drastically improved information experience provided via interactive video. Unlike traditional rich media content, all Qwikis are created on the fly from web sources (without any human intervention). 

An indeed an information experience, when trying out an actor (e.g. Megan Fox) or a geographic area (e.g. Milford Sound), and you receive a compilation of pictures, video material and a female voice reading text.
So I was imagining the proffesional application, when a company could make use of such a system towards all internal sources to bring the collective company knowledge to the customer on demand in realtime. That is one of our vision: When you walk into a meeting with the customer you bring the company (knowledge) with you.
But on second thought I have my doubts:
A tendency that I see with mixed feelings also in companies that I don't see creating value in all cases: the show and tell visualization, the preference is with video and visualization, not in conveying knowledge. A picture may well be worth 1000 words, but a word is not always worth 1000 pictures.
Furthermore there is the question what Qwiki is doing. As they claim they are not a search engine, so they combine (with which kind of algorithm is not clear) the various internet sources: wikipedia, flickar, youtube, etc. and they do it, as they proudly claim "without any human intervention".
Brianstormes states the following: "When it comes to comprehending information, the journey should not be the reward. The destination should be the reward. The destination is the "aha" moment. These Qwiki guys do not seem to have any understanding of the learning process. They're thinking flash cards. They are trying to make the journey -- a multimedia experience -- the reward and I worry about that. What is so desperately needed today and in the future are better skills at reading, comprehension, composition, analysis, and critical thinking. I worry that Qwiki is a giant step back from all that."In my language, yes, Qwiki is creating a new information experience, however as it cannot create the context, it adds to information overflow, instead of creating knowledge.
Imagine you search for BSC and get all the nice videos about the Balance Score Card and Base Station Center (I know, very simple example). The strength of wikipedia is the collective human brain source, not the information experience.

So I am interested, what killer applications I have overseen. Interested, in what you see in it.



  1. I agree with you that Qwiki is a "new information experience" that may provide information but - as we know - information is not knowledge. Although the concept is interesting to incorporate visualization with text, it does add to information overflow. It's what I like to call online "data noise".

    Qwiki information also seems somewhat out of date for some topics. At least with Wikipedia the human input and collective draw of knowledge can provide the latest content (not always, but mostly).

    More importantly as you point out, the collective human knowledge experience and collaboration using wikis contributes to knowledge in a much more dynamic and interactive way than any information search engine can.

    Great blog. Thanks for posting.

  2. Qwiki is just that. A Quickie. I don't know what algorithm joins text and photos but if you ask it to give you a quickie on knowledge mobilization it sounds like it's reading from Wikipedia. As a quickie it scratches the surface. If anyone showed up to give me a quickie in a presentation or meeting I would not be impressed as it shows a lack of depth of understanding. All show and no go. All style and little substance.

    Twitter is a much quicker quickie but twitter allows the tweeter to tweet with a link to further reading which itself might contain links to deeper understanding. Qwiki just shows me pictures and reads me text. It doesn't appear to let me do anything other than scratch the surface of the topic.

    There's nothing wrong with scratching the surface but if you stop there you have failed to be a critical consumer of information and missed the opportunity to deepen your understanding.

    I'll stick with twitter to get all the quickie info I need.

  3. @KMbeing:

    At the first glance, Qwiki raises huge expectations, but as you point out, this is due to the confusion (hope it will create knowledge with them afterwards!) of information and knowledge, adding only more and more information as such, results in "data noise" (I like that word), not in new knowledge, as more of context is not established.


  4. @ResearchImpact:
    It is a month or so ago, when I wrote the post (internally first), but I think I recall that the algorithm for text is mainly based on Wikipedia and then adding pictures (most certainly I am simplifying unfair here). And true as you say, it is doing the wisdom of the crowd a bad services, as the format "misses to deepen the understanding"



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