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Google Knol–a rival to Wikipedia?

Let’s keep an eye on this one. 

This week, the folks at Google announced its new Knol project in the official Google blog.  A select group of people were invited field testing this beta effort.

The word or concept Knol, stands for a unit of knowledge.

Our goal is to encourage people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it. The tool is still in development and this is just the first phase of testing. For now, using it is by invitation only. But we wanted to share with everyone the basic premises and goals behind this project.

Google wants its knols to be introductions to knowledge, the first thing someone who searches for this topic for the first time will want to read and aims to create knols for all topics, from scientific concepts, to medical information, from geographical and historical, to entertainment, from product information, to how-to-fix-it instructions.

Aside from ranking the relevance of its knols, Google will not serve as editor for these pieces:

and will not bless any content. All editorial responsibilities and control will rest with the authors. We hope that knols will include the opinions and points of view of the authors who will put their reputation on the line. Anyone will be free to write. For many topics, there will likely be competing knols on the same subject. Competition of ideas is a good thing.

A prototype knol is included on the Google blog post introducing the new feature.  From this prototype, it seems that knols will look different from a wiki approach, with a focus on an author rather than community knowledge building.  It reminds me of the About.com expert approach.  The incentive to create? Aside from contributing to the greater good, author/contributors may choose to  benefit from the inclusion of Google ads on their pages. 

The prototype knol on insomnia includes tags, comments, peer reviews, ratings, and a full reference list

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Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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