Knol - Google's publishing platform

Quite a lot has been said about the Knol project announced recently by Google. While many see it as a direct Wikipedia competitor, there are quite significant differences:

  • Instead of collaborating on articles every author makes their own
  • Google promises to display article authorship prominently and to share profits from ads in an article
  • Articles written by individual authors compete with articles of others on the same subject

In software terms this all makes Knol sound like a shareware project in comparison to Wikipedia’s open source model where many people collaborate to make good and neutral articles on a subject.

After a bit of thought I’m not sure if there is really need for something like Knol. Anybody can already start a blog or website specializing on a subject and monetize it with ads. And hosting in many situations is already free, so why place it in Google’s Knol?

Yet, I have to admit there is something Snow Crashy in Knol that I like:

Stephenson's vision of the Library of Congress or simply the 'Library' bears a striking resemblance to Wikipedia. In the story, millions of users are constantly uploading fragments of information to a searchable database. Stephenson's concept of the Library differs notably from Wikipedia however, in that users must pay to download most information. Indeed the novel refers to several people, including Hiro Protagonist, who pursue a career in uploading information in the hopes that it will one day be of value.

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