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Hacker Shows It Doesn't Take $8 Million to Clone Qwiki - Just 321 Lines of HTML Will do the Trick

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.