Google released a new service today called Google Knol, a service aimed to take on Wikipedia and in my case will definitely beat it after a while, although there are some differences which I think will make both services live on.
While Wikipedia is strictly collaborative work, Google Knol is not necessarily. If you write a Knol (much like a Wiki page) you can edit permissions, from all collaboration to closed collaboration. In my opinion this is a good move, although will have its drawbacks. On Wikipedia, articles are great and informative because in some situations thousands of people have edited an article, making it much more than sum of its parts. However sometimes a personal touch can make things better, and being able to close a Knol mans that content can't be spammed, by being altered to show a wrong date for example.
This mostly defines the market position of the services. Knol will be used for personal promotion much more than Wikipedia, and this means that it won't be like an encyclopedia, it will be more like a forum of knowledge in a form resembling an encyclopedia. Articles which take this too far in promoting themselves will possibly be buried under the good content, but this remains to be seen.
One thing I enjoy on Knol is the whole interface. It is much more user friendly and intuitive than Wikipedia, especially for those who are not all that experienced in these matters. Clean and simple, easy to use, the philosophy is like all other Google applications.
In conclusion this is a great implementation of the creative social knowledge model and I wish Google success with it. Some features like unpublish, inserting ads and so on alarm me a bit, but if designed well, this should pose no threat to the user experience, while giving people more impetus to work on quality Knols.
Update: Google has retired Google Knol, it is no longer available.Advertisement
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