The Future of Information Consumption
"Consumption environment" was what many excitedly called the new Twitter when it hit the ground running earlier this month. Little did we know that Qwiki, this year's winner of the TechCrunch Disrupt battlefield, was about to take information consumption beyond embedded photos and videos.  

An Information Experience

Imagine running a search for Barbara Streisand and getting a movie presentation that features informative text about the star, a map of where she lives, videos of her performances, and images accompanied with an audio file that sums up the gist of her life and career. Now imagine applying this technique to cities, automobiles, animals, venues-- anything, really. Sounds pretty cool, right?

Meet Qwiki (quick wikis), a company that aims to change the way we consume information. Each resulting storyboard is what company founders Doug Imbruce and Louis Monier call an information experience. Unable to stop smiling during the entire presentation (we don't blame him), Imbruce pointed out three key elements of each experience. They are:

  • Machine-generated
  • Curated
  • Interactive

Further, Qwiki is going mobile. Imbruce showed the crowd how the Qwiki technology greeted him that very morning via his iPhone. Along with a slideshow of photos was, of course, an audio file:

"Good morning, Doug. It's seven AM in San Francisco on Monday, September twenty-seventh. The temperature is seventy-five degrees, with sunny skies throughout the day. There is no risk for rain today. The low tonight will be sixty-two degrees with a high today of eighty-eight degrees. Don't forget, your TechCrunch demo is at two-fifteen PM, followed by drinks with Natalie Portman at--"

"The beautiful thing of what we have created is the marriage of art and science," he said, before Monier (one of the founders of AltaVista) got into the details of the process behind the curtain.  

Check it out:


Changing the World

Qwiki is similar in some ways to Flipboard, an iPad application that took a user's social stream — Twitter feed, Facebook, etc. — and turned it into a magazine format. 

It is also similar to Twitter's new interface, which features embedded rich media that accompanies tweets inside the stream, creating a one stop shop for consumption. 

The dynamic Qwiki adds, however, is different. Rather than group what your social community is saying under one interactive and real-time umbrella, Qwiki gets back to the roots of searching by enhancing any topic you could possibly think of with visually stunning and audio technology.

More importantly, sub-topics or related topics are featured within each Qwiki/information experience, pulling users further into the software and enabling them to access larger amounts of information without getting buried beneath it. Data is pulled from Wikipedia as well as a user's social connections such as LinkedIn. 

It's just the beginning, but it would be silly to doubt the possibilities lurking in technology like this. To check out Qwiki, you can sign up for an alpha here