Google just launched its online encyclopaedia project, the so-called Knol. The whole blogosphere is talking about whether it can be a competitor to Wikipedia. Well, let’s put it that way: no, it can’t. An excerpt from their mission statement:
The Knol project is a site that hosts many knols — units of knowledge — written about various subjects. The authors of the knols can take credit for their writing, provide credentials, and elicit peer reviews and comments.
What if someone else has already written an article on that subject?
No problem, you can still write your own article. In fact, the Knol project is a forum for encouraging individual voices and perspectives on topics. As mentioned, no one else can edit your knol (unless you permit it) or mandate how you write about a topic. If you do a search on a topic, you may very well see more than one knol in the search results.
So I will have to find out which Knol is better. In Wikipedia, we merge different “Knols” into one article. So the readers can only see the best version. Doesn’t it sound better?
I believe in the wisdom of crowds (maybe because I’ve been a Wikipedia administrator for years now). You can pay people to create you a database of information; you can let people fight who can come up with the better article. But it can never be as accurate as Wikipedia is.
Some interesting posts covering the same topic:
- 5 mistakes Google made with Knol (Wikipedia Blog)
Google Knol Collaborative Knowledge Database = Universal Textbook of Medicine? (Clinical Cases and Images)
Five (5) Questions about ‘Knol’ – Google’s Answer to Wikipedia (UBC Academic Search)
probably the 1000th Knol post you’ve seen today (Science Library Pad)