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which appears to be a Wikipedia-style system, allowing contributors to write articles.
Will this mean the death of Wikipedia?
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.
(I just got an e-mail from a longtime guidebook author who thinks having a Web site is too technically challenging. He might be a perfect candidate for Knol.)
It is very difficult for us tecchies to imagine how intimidating even the simplest Web site can be to people. I know million-dollar lawyers and doctors that can barely operate a mouse. They get their kids to look stuff up for them, and can't deal with scrolling. They need to have it printed out. These are people with serious education and that make a lot of money; yet they can't deal with Web tech.
Many Web designers sneer at these people, but a lawyer friend of mine flew to Vegas, just so he could spend $65,000 on a Rolex. I wouldn't mind having these people as customers. How about you?
This is no joke. It is something that will become less and less common as time progresses, but we are still not at the point where we can take even a minimal understanding of computers and Web sites for granted.
Wow, he must have low self-esteem if he needs to spend that kind of money on so-called status symbols.
Absolutely. It's a long story; but he is a technophobe who has so much money that he deliberately wastes it. It's not uncommon. There are entire industries and subcultures built around giving these folks a place to throw their money away.
However, Google might want to consider buying the domain from them. It seems to be the store's branding, so Google shouldn't pull one of those reprehensible trademark infringement tactics. They can afford a decent payout, and those folks would probably enjoy having some extra money in the bank, while registering knol.nl or something like that.
I don't think KNOL is an apropriate name for this projekt. A good name would be CANCER.
I do think it will be interesting to see whether (or how) Knol can manage to attract serious contributors to the more academic categories when so many of the articles elsewhere on the site will be the work of illiterate amateurs and people who are trying to sell something.
The way that "competing" knols are rated and interlinked looks like it will have a significant effect on how much real estate knols will be occupying in the SERPS for any one particular term.
The similarities to About.com have been brought up many times now. FWIW, I skip results from About.com and HowStuffWorks.com when I'm searching. The content/advertising ratio is ridiculous, not to mention the framing and the popups. Perhaps Google is trying to address that issue, with what may essentially be a slightly-less-sold-out version of About.com.
Digg is not extremely difficult to manipulate, and is also subject to bias controversy
Anytime you heavily rely on user "ratings", you are inviting controversy.
[edited by: jatar_k at 10:25 pm (utc) on Dec. 17, 2007]
[edit reason] no urls thanks [/edit]
The idea is to create a technology to standardize the content, which in theory will allow different modules (in this case, the Knols), to share relevant info, so a section on "Rockabilly Music" could show up in articles on Johnny Cash and Elvis. It eliminates redundency.
In practical terms, it's a mess, at least at first, as instructional designers were forced to conform to a system they weren't used to and end users didn't particularly care for. If Google has the fortitude to stick this out, it will create a major shift in the way we create and view information. Very scary for a content provider like me.
If Google has the fortitude to stick this out...
I think the question is whether Google has the right people (see: human beings, not computers or algorithms) working on this project, and enough of them, they might get some traction.
From my point of view, it looks like more wasted space and also a way for Google to maximize revenue by including knols in the SERPs, juice up their rankings and sell advertising. (Always bear in mind that a public corporation's fiduciary responsibility is to enhance shareholder value)
One thing that struck me as funny was Google's "opportunity" for writers to share revenue. I'm somewhat surpised nobody asked what the writer's percentage would be. Knowing Google, that number will likely never be disclosed, even to the author, just as it is with AdSense.
Let's be realistic. Google isn't about sharing the world's information. Google is about scraping the world's information from wherever they can and selling advertisements around it. There isn't an altruistic bone in all of Google's multi-national, corporate body.
Business is business and Google's branched out in so many directions they risk losing focus on their core, search. They have gone from organizing information to manipulating and exploiting information for financial reward.
Bottom line: Google will continue to crowd out organic search results with junk, spam, ads and their own content until they become irrelevant, and that's occurring at a pretty swift pace right now.
The people that really move the web are 22-35 years old, so how long before we hear them saying, "Google is so last year..."? I think that is happening already and anyone over 35 still using Google for search just doesn't "get it."
You know how people are, though. Five or six years and they get tired of anything on the web.
I should issue a disclaimer in my posts: I don't like Google and have been divorcing myself from all of their services. I'm finding that there is internet life outside of Google.
I wonder if they'll consider giving higher placement to sites that use AdSense?
In the case of the sites I do, it would be a disaster. We are an NPO, bound by charter never to display ads. People buy our name all the time in AdSense to try to lure away desperate people into costly and ineffective "solutions."
The only ads on our name would be scam artists. It would be a disaster, and people would be ruined (or killed) by some completely reprehensible nasties.
Since Google is willing to go to these lengths to expose their ads to a wider audience, I wonder if they'll consider giving higher placement to sites that use AdSense?
Nope. They're not that stupid. (Remember how Google refused to jump on the PFI bandwagon? They know the importance of maintaining credibility and quality for their core product.)
Also, the statement that "Google is willing to go to these lengths to expose their ads to a wider audience" is more cynical than accurate. Just what "lengths" are you talking about? Google is introducing a new product that's likely to have content of intrinsic value--i.e., something that's more like a traditional publishing site than your typical Web 2.0 "get the users to provide filler for our ad pages" site. In that respect, Knol is like Wikipedia, even though the authorship model is quite different.
Wiki makes it virtually impossible to initiate mediation as well. So if someone simply doesn't like you for being in the US they can wipe you for no reason.