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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Google Knol - an alternative to blogging?

Google knol A few months ago, Google announced a new web authoring tool called Knol. "Knol" stands for "unit of knowledge" and Google tried to encourage people who know about a particular subject to write an "authoritative" article about it. The buzz at the time suggested that Google might be taking on Wikipedia.

Yesterday Google announced that the project is now open to everyone:

The key principle behind Knol is authorship. Every knol will have an author (or group of authors) who put their name behind their content. It's their knol, their voice, their opinion. We expect that there will be multiple knols on the same subject, and we think that is good. With Knol, we are introducing a new method for authors to work together that we call "moderated collaboration." With this feature, any reader can make suggested edits to a knol which the author may then choose to accept, reject, or modify before these contributions become visible to the public. This allows authors to accept suggestions from everyone in the world while remaining in control of their content. After all, their name is associated with it! Knols include strong community tools which allow for many modes of interaction between readers and authors. People can submit comments, rate, or write a review of a knol. At the discretion of the author, a knol may include ads from our AdSense program. If an author chooses to include ads, Google will provide the author with a revenue share from the proceeds of those ad placements.

They also suggested that Knol might be an alternative to blogging:

Blogs are great for quickly and easily getting your latest writing out to your readers, while knols are better for when you want to write an authoritative article on a single topic. The tone is more formal, and, while it's easy to update the content and keep it fresh, Knols aren't designed for continuously posting new content or threading. One other important difference between Knol and Blogger is that Knol encourages you to reveal your true identity. Knols are meant to be authoritative articles, and, therefore, they have a strong focus on authors and their credentials. We feel that this focus will help ensure that authors get credit for their work, make the content more credible.

I'm not sure what to make of this, although I can see circumstances where I might want to use it. So to find out how it works, I knocked up a quick Knol (which was easy).

So what? Web 2.0 needs to come of age, and sadly, in this society, that means monetization. Is Knol one route to monetize online collaborative content? Maybe, though I remain to be convinced that it's more than extra eyeballs for AdSense. But perhaps I'm wrong, and perhaps you can tell me how Knol might have a role to play in education.

Update: Well, waddya know? 24 hours after I wrote my test Knol:

Google knol