Knol is a reasonably new service from Google, which has been described as their attempt to kill, or at elast steal some traffic from, Wikipedia. It’s basically a way for people to publish information about what they know in the form of ‘knols’ – Google’s term for a single unit of knowledge. These are tied to your Google account, so you are pretty much responsible for your own content on there and which kind of answers the problem of Wikipedia, where you might have no idea who has produced the content. I’m thinking that it is kind of a mixture of Wikipedia and Squidoo.
I’ve been having a bit of a go myself, adding knols on collaborating with wikis and getting started blogging – effectively just copy and paste jobs from some of the bigger posts on this blog. A few thoughts on my experiences doing this:
- The URLs for the knols themselves aren’t very friendly, which is a shame
- The editor is reasonably friendly to use but the Knol site seems to have a problem remembering whether or not I am signed in, which can be a pain
- I don’t think you can embed flash stuff like video or presentations, which is a pain
- Some kind soul has given the wiki knol a five star rating! But who? It would be nice to know
- There has been quite a bit of discussion about where knol entries will appear in Google searches – so far neither of my entries are appearing anywhere near the first page of results, but I am going to monitor this
- It would be nice for groups of authors to be able to form, and to group entries together as well, making it easy to find entries by authors that know each other, and for knol-writing projects to be kept together
I have set both my knols – and any future ones I write – to be editable by anyone with a Google account, so if you fancy having a go at improving them, or just having a play with Knol, go ahead. I think I am going to continue to cross-post relevant things to there. Whether I will ever go searching on Knol to find something out for myself, I’m not so sure.