Quite simply, we're not drowning in data. Data is the best hope we have to save us from the rise of multiple-choice questions at the college level.
I'm all for tools that make data easier to find, tame and publish. Yet, spoken word generated by a computer is an incredibly low bandwidth way to learn anything. Those of you with accounts, what am I missing?
Data is raw material, information is data put into context.
I suspect/hope that Qwiki is trying to do the later. We are over our heads in data, but at the same time we are suffocated by what poses as information. I would argue that we need the ability to turn data into information which suits our purposes.
I think good examples are 'What's the weather for the next 4 days in the places I'm going to be. ' or products like flighcast which tells you if the airline ticket you are looking at buying is likely going to do up or down in price.
In other words, we become better at thinking and making judgments when we are exposed to more and more data.
To say that "we are over our heads in data" is to see value in only in the the consumption of static, general knowledge, rather than in the ability to synthesize specific and relevant information.
It's probably not this Quantum Physics Wiki: http://qwiki.stanford.edu/
Likewise, whether Qwiki survives is independent of their idea, but rather their ability to adapt their product to customer needs and above all, their ability to execute.
Text (occidental) is not an efficient information channel. Why do all companies have a logo or distinctive simple image ? Because people can't read ? No beause one gets the message in the same time and effort it takes to read one letter.
So ther is definitely an added value to gain in this direction. It is not sure yet if Qwiki is the best way, but it is surely worth exploring and testing this. We underuse our visual and auditive senses in actual software. Technology capability has apparently evolved faster then our User interface exploitation.
Sure there are compelling ideas there, absolutely. Sure, used in moderation, some of the capabilities demoed would be beneficial.
But I maintain that their "information experience" hype is a hustle that has not been well thought out.
Why? What is the point of hoping it to fail? And why would you be worried if it succeeded? If you could answer the latter questions with any sort of logic I would be impressed.
If Qwiki succeeds, some number of people like their product. If people like their product, than Qwiki added value for those people.
So the question is, are you against Qwiki's intrinsic value proposition and offering, even though people might find it valuable? Or are you just against it because you don't think people will find it valuable?
If it is the latter, you should reword your story, title, and comment.
Could people who think better visually be underserved by text-only sources?
I think the fear you cite is too early to substantiate. I'd equate it to the fear of facebook/aim/texting destroying face to face (or voice to voice) communication.
1. If you are out-executing them and they fail, you would have won anyway.
2. If they are out-executing you and they fail, it signals very bad things about about the sector/business model.
The fallacy some people fall into when presented with a new product or service is to make an assumption that this new product or service is meant to replace current methods......entirely. It's a black or white world to these people. What you should be thinking instead is how this service could e utilized in a more useful way than SOME current methods of doing things. This is the same crap I read when augmented reality was coming about. Stop thinking A versus B and start thinking A + B!
Regarding the authors rant, of course a wikipedia type page of text has huge advantages when wanting to learn about a subject. But there can be times when Qwiki's method will be advantageous too! For example, what if Qwiki became embedded into interactive TV products. I'm sitting on the couch, watching Mythbusters, nowhere near my computer, and a term is brought up that I'm unfamiliar with. I could pause the tv and initiate Qwiki through a voice command and, still in my sunken-into-couch-ain't-willing-to-move-an-inch position, I can sit through a quick brief on said term before continuing with the show. That's just one example and there will be many more.
So again, stop it with the this versus that thinking!!!!! It's so simple- and single-minded! See the pluses and minuses with every solution and consider how each can serve in different scenarios!
You should re-read my piece. The whole thing. It's actually full of the appreciation for nuance and shades of gray. My worry is that Qwiki will not be.
By the way, your couch potato scenario makes me wonder if you have seen "Wall-E" and "Idiocracy". While you're in your couch there, check 'em out.
"It needs to fail. This is not the right way for us to go forward."
You're basically hoping completely that this will in fact fail entirely, without understanding how it could be useful for some people in some scenarios.
Attacking me on a personal level in your comment is also very simple-minded. You have no clue about the kind of person I am, what kind of activities I'm involved in, yet you've already made the assumption that I'm a lazy-ass fat person as portrayed in Wall-E. I'm the exact opposite. I run. I bike. I go to the gym very often. But there are indeed times in some days where I'm tired and want to veg-out, and in those times, I will want to plop on a couch and just watch some television.
Go ahead and downvote me all you want. For your sake, you should at least allow the possibility that you're thinking is wrong. By stating "it needs to fail", you basically hope no one will ever find their product useful, without seeing how people in the real world will react to it in the first place.
If you can, please give me some feedback on the A versus B / A+B thinking that I hope people practice, rather than trying to compare one thing versus another, choose the one that is mostly better, and hope the other goes away. The world is full enough for people to make use of a multitude of products and services to fulfill their needs and desires, and the way you choose to do so isn't the holy grail of how to live one's life.
 thank jeromec: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/9900486