Is Google’s Knol an attack on Wikipedia or Could it hurt Smaller Publishers like bloggers more?
So today Google finally opened up and launched Launched Knol (it’s been coming for a while) a place where people can publish ‘authoritative articles about specific topics’. It’s like Wikipedia in that articles can be edited by others – but changes need to be approved by the authors of the articles. Articles can be monetized in a revenue share arrangement where Google and the authors share income derived from articles.
My Three initial reactions to Knol
Google Competing with it’s Partners
My mind goes back to sitting in the offices of Google in Sydney where in a presentation by a Google staff member (a fairly highly ranked one) I heard him say that Google was not in the content business and didn’t ever want to compete with their publishers sites. He said that they were in the business of organizing the world’s information and not creating it. There was a murmur in the room at the time and a few raised eyebrows because we’d been hearing about these kinds of new products emerging from Google where they not only organize information but host it on their own properties. It’s a fine line – increasingly so with Knol.
Back in 2006 Google CEO Eric Schmidt was famously quoted as saying that Google was not a media company – “But that doesn’t make us a media company. We don’t do our own content. We get you to someone else’s content faster.”
There’s a lot of talk going around the blogosphere today about how Knol is a Wikipedia killer – but I wonder whether it could ‘kill’ (or perhaps maim would be more appropriate) a few smaller publishers before they really hurt Wikipedia.
Update: for more thoughts on this see Journalistopia.
I can only imagine how highly Knol articles are going to rank in Google’s search results in a year or two. Wikipedia makes it difficult enough for a publisher to grab the number 1 ranking for many terms in Google simply because of it’s size and the number of links pointing at it – have we just seen the launch of a product that will mean #1 and #2 positions are generally taken?
I can almost hear the blackhat community running over to Knol to see how it can be manipulated. I’m sure Google have safe guards in place – but where there’s a will there’s a way.
I’ve come across a number of people lately who have gone full time (or close to it) using Squidoo to publish articles and monetize them. They’ve build up profiles and search rankings for their Squidoo pages to the point that they’re able to generate significant incomes via advertising and affiliate revenue. I suspect we’ll see the same with Knol.
It’s going to be an interesting one to watch!
What do you think about Knol? Is it something that could help or hurt your blogging?