Qwiki is a new web app that helps you learn about virtually anything, but aims to inform you quickly by reading the articles to you while showing you a slideshow of pictures while you listen.
Qwiki was announced awhile back but just launched to the public — as an alpha release — this week. When I first heard about it I thought it sounded kind of stupid — why do I need a website to read to me, especially in a computerised voice? — but after giving it a try you'll come to see what it's compelling. It doesn't hurt that it's nice to look at (the format of the slideshows are especially creative), but each article is so concise yet sufficiently informative that you can brush up on any topic in about a minute and actually feel like you know a fair amount about it. It's one of those things you have to try.
Of course, it's not perfect. The page on George Orwell is far more compelling than, say, the page on Lifehacker. This is primarily because there's only one picture of the Lifehacker site and several pictures related to George Orwell (and other featured topics). The difference really demonstrates how effective the slideshow can be. Their computerized voice also needs a little work on her pronunciations, as I imagine Jizmodo would be a very different kind of blog. Again, it's an alpha release, so we should see improvements and more content as time goes on. Right now, it's pretty cool and definitely worth a look.