Qwiki is an app that creates pretty slideshows based on Wikipedia entries. The service won the top award at the last Techcrunch Disrupt conference and just received $8 million in new funding from a group led by Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin.

Personally, I never understood why putting together a text-to-speech engine with a Ken Burns effect was disruptive. The VCs on the Disrupt jury thought different, though, and chose this pretty but ultimately utterly useless service over really disruptive ones like CloudFlare. Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so. Now, just to show how Qwiki didn't merit the large new round of funding and how it doesn't deserve the constant hype on tech blogs like Techcrunch, an intrepid hacker who goes by the name of "Banksy the Lucky Stiff" put together Fqwiki, a workable Qwiki clone in just 321 Lines of HTML.

Click to see full image.

In the source code, the developer clearly references that the reason for this project was to show how easy it is to implement the basic functionality of Qwiki: "This code is not pretty, but it doesn't need to be. It's only been 6 hours, but based on funding patterns I should be able to raise a few million off of this ;)." The first demo of Fqwiki you see after opening the site is its rendition of the Wikipedia entry for "snake oil."

Fqwiki works best in Safari and Chrome, isn't quite as visually pleasing as Qwiki and is still quite buggy. As a smart critique of Qwiki and the hype around it, it definitely fulfills its purpose already, though.

Indeed, more so than a product, Fqwiki is a comment on the current state of VC funding and tech blogging. Qwiki is a very pretty product, but it's hard to see why it deserves the funding and attention it has been receiving. As of now, it only reads out Wikipedia entries and pulls matching pictures from articles that were linked to from the original Wikipedia entry. It's hard to imagine a situation where you would prefer seeing a Wikipedia slideshow (which, like all good slideshows, takes way too long) over just reading the article.

innovata 5pts

Qwiki was able create a hype because they used the name, Louis Monier, founder of Altavista. He was hired early to lead the "tech" but I heard he f*ed up real bad and he got fired... What a loser.

Wattie1111 5pts

Yeah - and I could probably write facebook in a few weeks or re-invent the can opener in a couple of hours - but that is not the point is it !!!!

Alvaro 5pts

i don't see the need for that either but i assure you 99% of the people will love it. reading? wtf they can't even read...

Steve 5pts

It's easy to copy, it's hard to do it first.

Again people misunderstand novelty and assume it must be related to technical difficulty.

Steve Dossett
Steve Dossett 5pts

Setting aside the details of the service for a minute:

Yeah, but Qwiki took the idea and translated into code first. Lots of novel ideas are head-smackingly simple in retrospect. Some people just choose to ship.



Scott 5pts

It certainly is a nice try and is impressive for the small amount of code but let's not confuse sizzle with steak. Just try the same query on both this and the real Qwiki and you'll quickly see that it is the content, not the pretty ken burns affect, that is the issue. For example, I tried "Google" and what this spit out was complete gibberish.

Aaron Turpen
Aaron Turpen 5pts

Yet another thing to convince me that what I should be doing is writing some stupid app and then going after the VC funding. Screw getting a real job.

Richardtvaughan 5pts

Fqwiki also runs without flash which the original doesn't.

Ruben Berenguel
Ruben Berenguel 5pts

What is important is the idea, not the implementation. But 8 million looks like too much for that... More when "ideas are worth a dime a dozen".



Gregory Magarshak
Gregory Magarshak 5pts

But we all know that raising money has a lot to do with image

And this product now has the image of a critique. Nice!

render 5pts

Thats the major problem wioth all of these web startups now. There is no technology. You can write twitter in 50 lines of code (Ive done it), just put a pretty website on top of it. Facebook?, Groupon?, Foursquare?...Teenagers can write these sites.

Ill check back in with web startups when they do something with technology that doesnt involve crayons and diapers.

Clyde Smith
Clyde Smith 5pts

"As a smart critique of Qwiki and the hype around it, it definitely fulfills its purpose already, though."

Gotta love that!

mvolga 5pts

I always saw these millions in funding for these flashy startups as complete insanity.

Bill Frank
Bill Frank 5pts

I checked out CloudFlare - CDN + cloud-based Web application security. Makes total sense. Very compelling.


Nice, that just looks like a lot of fun dude.


lelapin 5pts

very impressive work. Should the developer be looking for a job I believe he won't have to wait long for a proposal.