Thursday, July 24, 2008

Knol; a New Form of Web Info, Blogging and Community

When people think about scalability, normally they focus on the tools to make something grow larger. But applications, ideas, and tools that are truly scalable go both up and down. I am pretty excited about the new KNOL. Kind of like a blog, kind of like a wiki, but much more focused. Knols are single issue, idea, item, expert pages. Share what you know about one thing. How to? What about? Who, What Where When and Why.

"Welcome to Knol; A knol is an authoritative article about a specific topic."

There is some good buzz going about this new web tool. It is as easy to use as blogger, and more laser focused than a wiki. I can see some of our GNB writers posting some great Knols. One on Truffles perhaps? Or on canvasing, or on NY CSA's, or ordering sushi, or registering to vote from overseas, or where to eat in Harlem. Lots to contribute to the Interweb's Body of Collective Knowledge

On today's front page of KNOL for example;
Migraine: Mechanisms and Management
Buttermilk Pancakes
Pediatric Sports Injuries
Barbecue Defined

More hours of great reading and time wasting is in my future. I am definitely going to play with this for a bit and write a few Knols myself. Just what I needed, another reason to write and read on the internet.

Not everyone is happy of course;

Competition; Since its announcement in December of 2007, there has been speculation on Google's motives and its position as a producer of content rather than as an organizer. The Guardian's Jack Schofield argued that "Knol represents an attack on the media industry in general."

Knol has been described both as a rival to encyclopedia sites such as Wikipedia and Scholarpedia and as a complement to Wikipedia, offering a different format that addresses many of Wikipedia's shortcomings. The non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, which owns the name Wikipedia and the servers hosting the Wikipedia projects, welcomed the Google Knol initiative saying that "The more good free content, the better for the world." While Wikipedia articles are written collectively under a "neutral point of view" policy, Knol will highlight personal expertise by emphasizing authorship and, like articles provided on Squidoo and, knols will contain the personal opinions of the author. Despite the official Wikimedia response and the differences in format, Wikimedia Foundation chair Florence Devouard has expressed concern over Knol's potential threat to Wikipedia in terms of the competition it will create.

There has been debate whether Google search results can remain neutral because of possible conflict of interest. According to Sullivan, "Google’s goal of making Knol pages easy to find on search engines could conflict with its need to remain unbiased. -- Wikipedia.
I like the idea of more narrow, focused, bite size bits of knowledge. If knowledge and access = power for the people, more is better.