2 3 live&learn&rejoice: the information experience

January 23, 2011

the information experience

the homepage promises an information experience at http://www.qwiki.com/

while qwiki might be a fun search engine, promising an "experience" is promising disappointment. when i search for "dirt" and get a lump of dirt delivered that i can feel and taste and throw at my dogs*, then i'll have an experience .... what you get with qwiki is flashy results from yet another search engine and since it hasn't officially launched yet, value remains unknown.
*i won't really throw the dirt at my dogs

from the homepage now live, i clicked on artists/monet and a very cool montage of images appeared with [basic] accompanying text. nice presentation of information, though the sterile voice that reads the text still sounds like a lifeless computer. and that makes you wonder if being bombarded with a bunch of facts and pictures is kind of lifeless and stale regardless of the tone of the delivery and despite the snazzy animated presentation. perhaps other pages will offer analysis, some kind of comparison/contrast that adds value to the plethora of information we already get on the internet. will qwiki revolutionize how information is shared or is it just adding fancy touches to the information overload we all enjoy daily already?

the big investor in qwiki is one of the facebook co-founders, he's got good stage presence so nice first impression but when he introduces a clip from the movie wall-e to demonstrate the powers of qwiki, everything goes south for me.

remember the scene where the fat captain of the spaceship is trying to learn what earth is and what the sea is so he punches buttons to learn. for me that was kind of an example of how you can't really get something unless you experience it -- ie, you learn what the sea is by going into the water, getting sand up your nose when a wave knocks you over, and feeling slimy things bump up against your legs..that sort of thing.

but in wall-e the captain and the inhabitants of this spacecraft don't ever seem to have sensory experiences at all. they have comfort, they have automation, but they don't get their hands dirty to learn what anything is and that's so depressing, no? as i recall -- and it's been a few years since i saw the movie so perhaps i misremember -- but i seem to recall nobody on the spacecraft even touches one another, there is no affection, they all have gadgets in their hands and sit in their chairs and don't DO anything but observe and absorb what is told to them...but i digress...

....so to give this clip as an example of what qwiki is striving to be makes me cringe, makes me want to go outside and experience life instead of sitting inside and blogging (it is 30 degrees outside and 5 am so i'll continue to rant about passive computer use while sitting in front of the computer passively...nobody said bloggers couldn't be hypocrites, lighten up).

the thought that someone watched wall-e and thought the lifestyle of the people on the spaceship worth emulating creeps me out. so a very weird disconnect for me when watching the promo for the ultimate information experience: his utopia is my nightmare.

....now watch qwiki go on to be the most popular thing since sliced bread (which, incidentally, i also dislike)

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