Knowledge is Power!
So, here is the next Black Swan from Google:- a highly improbable event that is unpredictable, will have massive impact, and which, after it has happened, we’ll all pretend we could have seen it coming. This is Google Knol - encouraging people to contribute knowledge.
Many mainstream media observers see this as Google’s a direct challenge to Wikipedia - a vandal-proof version - but this is a very blinkered viewpoint, and rather too easy for hack journalists to regurgitate: Google launches Wikipedia rival. I’m surprised the ‘For whom Google knols…‘ headline has not been coined yet. Oops, it just has been.
No, too simplistic. Knol is, and it is not a Wikipedia rival, because it is something different - it is, typically for Google, a whole new ball game. Authors will share revenue from the Ads that surround their content - but what content is found is likely to be that which is most popular, with content also measured by reader review. Unlike a Wiki, where the author is invisible (and often multiple) in a Knol, the identity of the author, is central to the authority of the content, with the author’s affiliation being cited in an early Google mockup.
From The Official Google Blog: Encouraging people to contribute knowledge:
“The key idea behind the knol project is to highlight authors. Books have authors’ names right on the cover, news articles have bylines, scientific articles always have authors — but somehow the web evolved without a strong standard to keep authors names highlighted. We believe that knowing who wrote what will significantly help users make better use of web content. At the heart, a knol is just a web page; we use the word “knol” as the name of the project and as an instance of an article interchangeably. It is well-organized, nicely presented, and has a distinct look and feel, but it is still just a web page. Google will provide easy-to-use tools for writing, editing, and so on, and it will provide free hosting of the content. Writers only need to write; we’ll do the rest.
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. The goal is for knols to cover all topics, from scientific concepts, to medical information, from geographical and historical, to entertainment, from product information, to how-to-fix-it instructions. Google will not serve as an editor in any way, and will not bless any content. All editorial responsibilities and control will rest with the authors. We hope that knols will include the opinions and points of view of the authors who will put their reputation on the line. Anyone will be free to write. For many topics, there will likely be competing knols on the same subject. Competition of ideas is a good thing.”
The news came out on the Google Blog on the 13th Of December, with no major media announcement or fanfare. It just appeared, but it immediately was caught by my antennae, and by that of several commentators of note. Now, the mainstream media are picking this up, and there is a definite buzz in the blogosphere.I have created a discussion space for authors at www.knolroll.ning.com and welcome your comments here, or there.