A new way to conduct research on the Internet

A ground-breaking web site has just transitioned into the alpha-testing phase. It is a new way to research a topic, and combines facts gathered from Wikipedia and other sources with photographs, videos, graphics and maps. The site is Qwiki. If you search on Qwiki for “2010 Russian wildfires”, for example, a voice will read text that appears on the screen describing the fires while a dozen photos, or sometimes a collage of photos, scroll across.

The screen grab below is from the Qwiki presentation about the Cerro Grande fire that burned out of Bandelier National Monument into Los Alamos, New Mexico in 2000.

Qwiki screen capture

Warning! This site can easily turn into a wonderful way to waste spend hours of your time. If you have ever used Wikipedia, going from link to link, Qwiki, with the photos and other eye candy sucking you in, may get you hooked, like me.

I looked at about 20 of their narrated slide shows, and the more mainstream topics like Mount Rushmore or Galileo are quite fleshed out, containing many photos and graphics. Some of the more obscure topics like “Wildland fire engine” may only have a couple of photographs.

You can suggest that more photos or videos be added to a slide show by clicking on “Improve This Qwiki” at the top of the page, but the photos have to already be on another web site.

If you click on a photo during the slide show you’ll see a description of it along with a link to the site where the photo originally appeared.

Here are some other wildland fire-related topics on Qwiki:

  • Wildfire Suppression
  • Controlled Burn
  • Cedar Fire (San Diego County, 2003)
  • Yellowstone NP fires of 1988
  • Old Fire (San Bernardino County, 2003)
  • Santa Ana Winds
  • October 2007 California Wildfires
  • Cerro Grande fire, Los Alamos, New Mexico 2000

The presentations I saw were 25-50 seconds long, so it will not serve all of your research needs, of course, but it is a good way to get an overview of a subject, and the links associated with the images can lead you to more details on the topics.

The site has not even officially advanced to the beta testing phase yet, so you may see some bugs or some photos that are not related to the topics, but  it’s an amazing site that will change the way we conduct research on the internet.

You’re welcome.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

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