Today, I received my invitation to join alpha testers of a new online information tool, Qwiki. I haven’t had time to play around with it much, but I’m excited about the potential this tool holds for gathering information on a wide array of topics. I’m also excited about its potential to help colleges and universities tell their stories to the online world.
The site incorporates more intelligence than your run-of-the-mill search engine. An introductory post on the company blog describes Qwiki as “the world’s first ‘information experience’, powered by a technology that transforms static information into interactive stories.”
Here’s how it works: Type in a search term and, assuming Qwiki’s database has enough information to build a definition around your search term, a pleasant, albeit computerized, female GPS voice reads words that also appear on screen as a slideshow unfolds. Below the slideshow is a timeline, which allows users to backtrack or drill down into certain topics from the narrative. Certain words and concepts are hyperlinked, allowing the user to survey other related information.
Once Qwiki’s database is more complete, the site should be a good tool for research on the fly. But there’s still work to be done. The database for the campus where I work, Missouri University of Science and Technology, is not quite fleshed out. It would not be a bad idea for higher ed marketers to sign up as testers if for no other reason than to find how Qwiki represents your school or programs.
According to Mashable, the startup just closed on an $8 million funding deal and its backers include a few folks who know a bit about starting successful tech companies: Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim and Juniper Networks co-founder Pradeep Sindhu. Not a bad start. Maybe it will become the next big thing.