Google recently started an invitation-only beta test of a new service called “Knol”.
Pages at Knol are similar to Wikipedia entries, with expert authors writing articles on a variety of topics. A columnist at ArsTechnica notes that despite being one of the top sites on the web, Wikipedia is the one space where Google can’t make money through ad placement – he speculates that Google’s motivation is to create a “Wikipedia-killer”.
Regardless of the motivation, Google’s approach is to highlight the authors of the articles. They want to encourage individuals that are experts on a topic to write articles and let users examine information about the author to determine how trustworthy the information might be. (Wikipedia, of course, works on a “crowdsourcing” model where multiple authors – sometimes anonymously – create and edit entries.)
Currently, Google doesn’t have Knol open to the public, but has posted a blog entry and sample screenshot.
blog entry at Google
sample screenshot at Google
A range of thoughts about Knols and the future of Wikipedia can be found on various blogs:
listing of posts at Buzzfeed
An article about Google’s Knol effort has also appeared at Wikipedia.