Will Google's Knol be a force for evil?

Google's new online encylopedia, Knol

If you missed the recent news it appears that Google has gone, in effect, head to head with Wikipedia, but with differences.

These differences are that Google's new online encyclopedia, called KnolGoogle Knol (derived from the phrase "unit of knowledge"), has a focus on authorship (Wikipedia articles are not credited to individuals) and frames the articles with Adsense advertisements thus "monetizing" the service. Moreover authors will get a cut of the revenue.

You can find the blog post by Udi Manber, Google's VP of Engineering, that announced the general availability of Knol here.

The logic behind Google's move is obvious: With Wikipedia having become the pageview generating monster that it is (about 5 per cent of search results link to its articles), and with its grass roots consensus style authorship, the opportunity to create a commercial version of the concept that gives authors ownership and revenue for their work is commercially compelling.

The way editing Knol articles works is, by default, "authorized collaboration" where an author submits an article and anyone can suggest changes, but only the original author can allow those changes to be made. The alternative is "straight collaboration" where a lead author starts an article and specifically invites other people to edit the piece with the same rights she has.

Authors can choose to license their contributions under the Creative Commons Attribution License (the default), the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial License, or an "All Rights Reserved" license.

All of the WYSIWYG editing tools are built-in to the Knol user interface, and by some strange marketing quirk even though you can't yet add images or videos to articles (an incredible omission!) you can add cartoons from the archives of The New Yorker!, I find that seriously weird.

Users can search Knol's content directly and as the articles are indexed along with the rest of the Internet, Knol content will turn up in general Google searches. Beyond searching Knol's content, users can also write reviews of articles and rate them.

This brings up the question of whether Google will show favoritism for its own content over Wikipedia or for that matter over any other knowledge repository. It's very early to try to analyze this and the answer is anything but clear so far. You can bet we'll all be watching very closely for indications of evil bias.

So what does Knol mean for the future of Wikipedia? Quite obviously the opportunity for writers to get paid for what they contribute to Knol, that they would otherwise contribute to Wikipedia for free, is going to have an effect.

Knol may also create problems for itself due to Google's page ranking. This will be because highly rated early articles will get more links and therefore higher page ranks. When later and possibly more up to date and or accurate articles are added it will be hard for them to get attention due to the "momentum" of existing related content.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mark Gibbs

Network World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?