Just read about this on Slashdot – the folks over at the Official Google Blog have called preschool to session for the day:
“There are millions of people who possess useful knowledge that they would love to share, and there are billions of people who can benefit from it. We believe that many do not share that knowledge today simply because it is not easy enough to do that.” Enter Google’s new project, “knol.”
Interesting, because it seems to me that there are tons of easy ways to share knowledge already – it sounds like Google is actually working on a plan to generate ad revenue from a service that is half Wikipedia, half About.com. It makes sense that Google would try stem the loss of search traffic resulting from Wikipedia, now robust enough to make a real dent in their marketshare. The solution – “a knol on a particular topic is meant to be the first thing someone who searches for this topic for the first time will want to read.”
Significant points of departure from Wikipedia – a “knol” will work on the dual principles of identified authorship and moneymaking, aka Google ads. Also, “for many topics, there will likely be competing knols on the same subject,” rather than a central article built on collaborative effort and fed by similar redirects. I’m sorry, but this is apt to become unusably confusing, fast. That said, I imagine that Google will push the most popular knols to the top of their results, giving Wikipedia results a major search competitor.
A sample knol on insomnia: