Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Google Omniscient?

The wires are beginning to fill with chatter about a new product from Google. The Knol. It will be an encyclopedia like Wikipedia - except the content will be created by expert authors accredited by Google. I don't have any issue with that. Students have been discouraged from relying too heavily on what they read in the Wikipedia because the source is unverified. It is, after all the work of unknown authors with axes to grind, agendas and, quite possibly, sketchy knowledge of the topic. Errors and omissions can be altered by others, making it an organic process.

I have read some criticism of the Knol suggesting that Google's success, in part, has been based on its independence from the content. With knol it will share revenue with the content creators from the Adwords panels that appear on the page. Knol would also, most likely, be given a priority in searches, pushing Wikipedia down the list of search results. That might be construed as anticompetitive.

Others have doubts over
whether Google can pull it off. The company has a history, a tradition almost, of starting things they don't finish. A PC World blogger wonders whether the company is overextending itself.

It is also quite possible that Google won't launch it at all and are simply testing the waters. Certainly the level of buzz is increasing, ranging from paranoid (the Google will own everything/evil empire) to the yippees of the folks who hate the idea of wiki-anything. I don't feel afflicted in either sense. Will watch with interest.

Screenshot of Knol

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