Qwisk is a new social browsing tool that launched yesterday at the TechCrunch Real-Time CrunchUp. Qwisk lets you quickly and easily share content with your social networks (Twitter and Facebook supported, plus the Qwisk network). It inserts a messaging pane on the left side of your screen to give you access to your social networks as you browse, and adds a sharing toolbar at the top of the screen to allow you to share content as you browse. To access content that others have shared, you simply click the individual messages in the messaging pane. To share content, press the appropriate button in the toolbar.
One can also start an IM-like conversation about a particular page with another Qwisk user by simply dragging that person’s image from the left pane onto the page.
It’s a clever implementation, although others have tried similar projects before (anyone remember me.dium?). The timing for a social sharing tool, however, is better than it has been previously as sites like Twitter and Facebook have rapidly become a constant firehose of links. Moreover, every link shared via Qwisk is actually a link embedded into Qwisk, making each user who clicks into a Qwisk user. Qwisk should propagate virally, and very very quickly.
In use Qwisk is reasonably unobtrusive, although it requires the user to remember to browser using the Qwisk URL bar rather than the standard browser bar. With large widescreen monitors, the extra real estate Qwisk consumes isn’t an issue. It might be irritating on a netbook. It is, however, far too easy to leave the Qwisk environment – the simple act of clicking on a link forwarded via email brings up the browser without the Qwisk add-ins. The Qwisk team needs to find a way to make their tool a permanent feature of my browsing environment, and not something I have to remember to browse to each time before beginning to browse.
Will people leave the tools they’ve become accustomed to for Qwisk? That part is unclear. Tweetdeck is a staple in my toolbox because of the other features – searches, filters, and so on – and not so much the fact that it makes it easy to share content. Qwisk, while promising, has more work to do before it’s a replacement for me.