Monday, December 17, 2007

Google Knol: Knol = Limited Knowledge

Is google knol the answer to a doubt that doesn't really need to be raised? You know, the one that goes..."ah but you can't trust what you read on wikipedia"...

Google Knol, illustrated above (and in very limited beta at present), is being characterised as a wikipedia rival. And there are those who claim wikipedia is unreliable so perhaps organising chunks of expert knowledge in easily sorted boxes is just what the web ordered.

I'm not a subscriber to that view. Wikipedia is rarely wrong for long. The wisdom of the crowd is a rapidly self-correcting beast - certainly much faster than Mr I M Expert can be, even if he does bother responding to 'suggested edits and additions' on his Knol.

Knols look like being sealed units - essentially wikipedia stubs that only the original expert author can add to. In this respect (and this one alone) they are more like a blog than a wiki.

But google has a blog search and a self-publishing platform in Blogger. So what's the point of Google Knol?

Perhaps Google doesn't trust itself to deliver the right search results? (rate the likeliness of this below!) Or perhaps it just likes the look of all that juicy un-google-adsensed traffic over at Wikipedia? (ditto).

Let's assume it is simply a way to organise chunks of expert information as unique pieces of knowledge rather than streaming through the dialogue of the blog? Apply all the usual social media functions we'd expert and we could have league tables of the best expert guides to life the universe and everything.

Michael Arrington on Techcrunch tells us: "It’s a new knowledge base for authors. Anyone, eventually, will be able to write on any topic they choose. Google will provide authoring tools, store the information, allow others to comment and suggest edits, add ads with the author’s approval, and provide traffic via their search engine."

But even this doesn't make the best use of the collaborative power of the networked world.

I agree with Stowe Boyd when he suggests knowledge is vested in/created by rich conversations ( a la blogs) rather than sealed off units (a la a Google Knol). It's the whole point about connections creating the value, rather than the nodes themselves.

So perhaps it is apt that google has gone for a conjunction of the word knowledge as its 'unit of knowledge'... a restricted, sadly stunted version.


  1. Exactly exactly exactly!!

    I'm writing a series of posts exactly about the wisdom of crowds, and how correct aggregation of information can actually bring better results than a number of experts.

  2. Thanks RoboJ. Nice blog by the way. You might be interested in the 'shared vision of a networked future' project you'll find listed at the top of this page.


The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?