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What is Quora?

By February 1, 2011web-tech

We live in a world where it's impossible to keep up with all the shiny new tech things that some people are developing, and that others are obsessing over. Still, I like to know when something worth knowing about is surfacing. I don't consider myself so much an 'early adopter' as an 'early observer.'

But, even early observing is taxing. So I need a way to figure out when something is worth paying attention to. And eventually I can decide if it's worth trying.

Quora has been getting a lot of buzz in the past few months, including $86 Million in funding. Hence, I began to wonder if it was worth observing, or even trying. I held off, figuring that eventually I'd get a strong Spiderman-like signal. Yesterday I felt my spidey-senses tingle.

TechCrunch's Mike Arrington teed off on Robert Scoble's assessment of Quora. If you don't know who these people are, it doesn't matter. They both spend a lot of time obsessing about new technology, so I follow them in a somewhat-removed-kind-of-way. Anyway, Arrington's critique of Scoble's misunderstanding of what Quora was supposed to be gave me just enough information to kind of get a sense myself.

So I decided to sign up to check it out. Basically, Quora uses the power of crowd-sourcing to help people get answers to questions that they have about various things. Google is good for certain kinds of searching, but Quora tries to fill a gap in the Googleverse of knowledge. That's my quick explanation.

For a better explanation of what it is, and why it's probably not something you'll want to mess with right now, read David Pogue's take on Quora. After trying it for about 24 hours, I totally agree with Pogue: it's not worthing messing with for now. If you're a geek, and trying to answer really geeky questions, then perhaps.

In short Mike Arrington and Robert Scoble may disagree with each other about what Quora is for, but—unless you know who Arrington and Scoble are—you almost certainly aren't going to understand Quora or see any value in trying it. For now, at least.


P.S. If you appreciate these kinds of observations, you might want to read this as well.

2 Comments

  • Peter says:

    Quora is not much different than Aardvark or Answers. Quora is just a Silicon Valley fad. Why do the tech “main stream” media always for fall for the marketing spin and hype of Silicon Valley? Frankly this elitist thinking just propels bad products and enrich the rich even richer. For a true experience that is unique there is a better site called Koowie. Koowie connects people based on each of our thoughts but is in a question format so it can act as a Q&A site but much more. http://www.koowie.com.

  • Thank you. That was my conclusion, too, and it’s nice to save my limited attention to the tools I can quickly start to use.

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