Monday, December 17, 2007

Why I think Knols will flop

So apparently, Google announced a publishing platform called Knol, which is supposedly similar to Wikipedia, in that it is supposed to provide encyclopedia-like information, but giving focus to the authors of each knol.

But without the collaborative effort and the multiple cycles of feedback that make up the core of wikipedia, will knols be as neutral and elaborated as wikipedia? Sure you could make a pretty informative and non-biased knol on ladybugs or potatoes, but what about Java strengths and weaknesses and, for that matter, Bush or Huckabee?

In my opinion, centralizing opinions around authors gives that much more room for incidents like when the Gaia guy bashed AIR, or more recently, when Resig threw a fit over a MooTools presentation.

Add to it that Google plans to add advertising to knols and you have something that scarily resembles the sensationalist tabloid newspaper business model.

Sure, we could argue that the good authors will prevail over the others, but authorities in various fields already blog, and blogs are much more adept at expressing opinions and even a certain degree of entertainment to authors, whereas factual dissertations are much more restrictive and easy targets for scrutiny.

One field where personal knowledge pages are common is the "[insert topic] for dummies", which et al caters to. Thing is, whenever I'm over on those sites, I'm looking for quick answers, not looking to deepen my e-relationships with experienced people in some area where I'm not a guru.

Perhaps knols will be more socially oriented than, but to say that knols will compare to Wikipedia sounds like giving individual authors way too much credit.

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