Big news out of the Googleplex tonight: Google is launching what appears to be a head-on competitor to Wikipedia. The company has begun beta-testing a tool, called Knol (short for "knowledge"), that will allow people to create articles about particular subjects and post them on a set of specialized web pages hosted by Google. Each article, according to Google engineer Udi Manber, "is meant to be the first thing someone who searches for this topic for the first time will want to read." That, obviously, perfectly describes what Wikipedia pages have become for a huge number of web searchers.
The big distinction with Wikipedia is that Knol relies on individual authors rather than "the crowd." Each article, or "knol," will be signed and owned by the person who writes it, and articles on the same subject will compete with one another for viewer's eyes. In contrast, Wikipedia builds a single version of each article in a communal way with many edits by anonymous contributors.
The success of Knol is, of course, far from assured, but the ability of authors to sign their names, take ownership of their work, and compete with other authors may well be a lure for many people.
Jonny, are you paying attention? This is your big window of opportunity vis-a-vis
Peirce-related articles.This post has been edited by Moulton: Fri 14th December 2007, 11:17am