Over the weekend, I got an alpha invite from Qwiki and I promptly spent a few hours in an internet sinkhole, the way I did when I first discovered Google or Wikipedia or YouTube. Qwiki is a service that aggregates information about a subject and then unspools that information in a brief narrated video. At first glance, it looks like one of those too-slick products that tries to tame the internet into something glossy and shiny, like network television. And there is some of that at work, here. But when you look at this video of Qwiki's debut, especially toward the end, you start to see the uses of these videos besides just a TV news version of Wikpedia:
It's basically a layer you can rest on top of the internet, an information delivery service. I think the next generation of smartphones will have some form of this service from the get-go, and I'd be willing to bet Qwiki gets bought by somebody (Google? Bing?) pretty soon. In the meantime, you can look at some popular Qwiki topics without an alpha invitation over here.