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Google-Knol enters knowlege-sharing scene December 23, 2007

Posted by IntimatePower in knowledge-sharing.
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Google has announced a knowledge-sharing service called “Knol” (from knowledge), which lets people write an authoritative article about their subject of interest or expertise, and meant to be the first thing that web-surfers find when they look for that particular subject.

“The key idea behind the Knol project is to highlight authors”, says Udi Manber, Google’s VP of engineering.
Indeed, one of the strengths of Knol compared to Wikipedia, is the possible authoritative nature of the articles, since writers will be (hopefully) identified by their real name, and may be experts in their fields, so they will be putting their reputation on the line.

“Knols will include strong community tools. People will be able to submit comments, questions, edits, additional content, and so on. Anyone will be able to rate a Knol or write a review of it. Knols will also include references and links to additional information”

An example of a Knol page shows a nice implementation of all these features.

Although I’m glad to see Google put its weight behind such a noble cause as knowledge sharing, I fear, as others in the blogosphere, that it is trying take on Wikipedia or even to dominate the whole knowledge-sharing scene.

There are some other issues here:

Seth godin’s Squidoo, is a similar author-centric knowledge-sharing service.
It has now been online for 2 years, and sports 300,000 articles.
However, I have never found it within the top search results for anything I searched for (and I search A LOT!). Rather, it’s usually Wikipedia at or near the top of my search results.
Would it be any different with Google-Knol ?

As Michael Arrington noted in his review of Seth Godin’s Squidoo, writers could build a name for themselves and possibly make more ad revenue by having their own blogs.

Would the financial aspect affect the choice of subjects and the quality of the writing ?

On average, Wikipedia manages to keep a good-enough level of information, and to identify instances where an article is opinionated, un-substantiated or even false.
Since Knol places more power in the hand of the author of the page, how good will the service be as a source of objective, factual information?

How easy would it be for the public to review and correct articles ?
Wikipedia’s cumbersome editing process leaves much to be desired in this area.

How prone will the service be to spamming, and especially to wisely-disguised advertizing ?

How will copyright be handled ? Would writers have any rights on their “Knol” ? what happends when someone takes a given Knol-page, improves and updates it and then re-posts it under his own name ?

Will Google really stand on the side without any editorial influence (read: censorship) ?

Found via Seth Godin