Yesterday, Google introduced their latest social media heavy-hitter: Knol, a free, user-generated information database that puts an emphasis on the user (and a bit of social networking). As of now, the service is still in testing, and only a few users have been invited to try it out, but buzz is already building around what many are describing as a more author-focused Wikipedia. The name “knol” stands for “a unit of knowledge”; users who have expertise in certain fields are encouraged to share their “knols” with those in the site’s community. From the Official Google Blog:
Knols will include strong community tools. People will be able to submit comments, questions, edits, additional content, and so on. Anyone will be able to rate a knol or write a review of it. Knols will also include references and links to additional information. At the discretion of the author, a knol may include ads. If an author chooses to include ads, Google will provide the author with substantial revenue share from the proceeds of those ads.
The question on most people’s minds is exactly how big of an impact Knol will have in an arena dominated by (almost) everyone’s favorite information source, Wikipedia. How much do we care about who the sources behind our “facts” are? Though we won’t be sure until we try the site out ourselves, it’s pretty safe to say that a little accountability certainly never hurt anyone. Unsightly contextual ads, however…