Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Google Knol - a more serious challenger to Wikipedia

Google has come out with a potential Wikipedia killer. Its latest product, called Knol (short for knowledge), will require article writers to post their name. You will not be able to post anonymously. Others can edit your knol, but you can choose to accept, modify or reject any edits that others make. They predict multiple articles on the same topic with variances of opinion. The author can also choose to accept ads on their Knol. If they accept those ads, Google will compensate them substantially. Will this be World Book or Britannica killer? Probably not, unless it can really offer features that World Book, Encyclopedia Americana, and Encyclopedia Britannica excel at, such as outstanding graphics, maps, charts, timelines and video clips that easily explain difficult concepts.

I see it as a possible first stop for certain kinds of research. But it will not replace everything. It will be no replacement for the kind of in-depth research that would be available at your library. But many will attempt to use it for exactly that since it's easy. Doing real research is time consuming and as Americans who want instant achievement, Google Knol will satisfy the need of instant gratification.

For more information, check out Google unfurls less laughable Wikipedia, by Cade Metz in The Register.



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