May 23, 2012 -- A year ago, a small start-up set a goal of changing the way we get information online. In a digital world littered with blogs, articles and videos, Qwiki and its founder Doug Imbruce worked toward a simpler way to bridge those things together.
Today Qwiki launches its new media publishing tools in a private beta test, offering users a new interactive blend of multimedia storytelling. In two more weeks everyone will have the ability to make "Qwikis" when the public beta version is released.
"We believe in a web that is more personal and more engaging. We think the way we get there is by blending the interactive appeal of a web page with the appeal of video," Imbruce told ABC News.
Qwiki is very simple to use. Sign up for an account (it will be by invitation only for the next two weeks), decide what topic you want to make a Qwiki about, and then add up to six pieces of media -- images, video, a Google map, etc. You can also add text to those image-heavy assets and then record a video narration to string together a visual, multimedia story.
The end product can offer a broader experience than a simple edited video – through links appearing above images and videos, users can click through to interact with the on-screen content. The company believes Qwikis will help individuals and organizations create content in a new way.
"The real sweet spot is in democratizing content creation in large media organizations and also empowering small content creators," Imbruce said.
ABC News has been working with Qwiki for months as the first media organization to explore how it works. Today, Qwiki launches with a dedicated ABC News channel that contains Qwikis on a variety of topics, including politics, technology, entertainment, and travel. You can check out ABC News' Qwiki page here.
Qwiki received $9 million start-up funding last year, and its investors include Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, who created a dust-up by renouncing his U.S. citizenship just as Facebook was going public last week. Imbruce says Saverin has been a generous investor, but, "like most good investors, not overly involved in the product."
Already Qwiki is providing tools for both professional and amateur content makers, but more is on the way. Imbruce and the 15 other Qwiki employees are hard at work on improving the web version of Qwikis and also expanding the mobile version of its product.
"We'll have mobile playback this summer and advertising integration for large publishers," Imbruce said.
In the meantime, users can check out Qwikis on some of the following ABC News pages, or you can head over to Qwiki and check out some others. You will also be able to sign up for a Qwiki invite today.
(As part of Qwiki's beta launch, Qwiki and ABC News have collaborated to create a dedicated ABC News channel, a first of its kind relationship between Qwiki and a newsgathering organization.)