I’ve mulled it over a spell and have come up with one slightly less critical thought on Google knol. A potential positive – users can rate, edit, comment on, and question articles, which may lead to a more visible and interesting conversation than in Wikipedia discussion pages. My main question about article edits is this – if knols are to be so prominently and individually authored, does the page creator have full editorial control over which edits are accepted? If this isn’t the case and the knol is drastically edited, at what point will authorship for the article change? Depending on how this works, knols could be far more misinformation-ridden than Wikipedia articles, which are typically monitored quite effectively by the collective accuracy police. The project is in the first phases of testing (by invitation only, of course), and who knows how long it will be before these start showing up in search results.
On the example insomnia knol, (written by Rachel Manber, director of Insomnia and Behavioral Sleep Medicine at Stanford) there is a prominent category for “peer reviews,” more evidence that Google is trying to fill the perceived credibility gap in Wikipedia. (It’s interesting to compare this article with its Wikipedia counterpart, by the way.) My feeling is that these, if they become prominent, will present another important information literacy conversation for teaching librarians, not to mention university faculty and other educators.