Is Google’s Knol Another Nail in the UGC Coffin?

July 24, 2008 05:21 PM
by Sarah Amandolare
Google has unveiled Knol, a new online encyclopedia, written by experts, that aims to take user-generated content to a more sophisticated level.

30-Second Summary

According to Google’s official blog, “the key principle behind Knol is authorship” because “not everything worth knowing is on the Web. An enormous amount of information resides in people’s heads.”

Google’s head of search engineering Udi Manber explained to Wired how Knol differs from Wikipedia, saying, “One article is written by one person, and it’s one person’s opinion. You know who that person is and where they’re coming from.”

However, some critics are already questioning how Knol will really help Internet users locate the best information, as Google expects numerous knols to be written for each topic. The Marketing Pilgrim blog asked how users will find specific knols, and which knols they should adhere to when authors present opposing information.

Knol has been dished about in the blogosphere for months, but its launch signifies a culmination of the growing backlash against unmoderated, user-generated Web content. “People are beginning to recognize that the world is too dangerous a place for faulty information,” said Charlotte Beal of Iconoculture, a Minneapolis-based research firm.

Wikipedia in particular has been cast as an Internet villain by the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, which asserted that students were relying too heavily on the site for research, and coming up with inaccurate information.

Headline Link: Knol is ready

Background: UGC backlash

Related Topic: The dangers of Wikipedia

Opinion & Analysis: Navigating Knol

Reference Material: Guide to Wikipedia; Google presents Knol


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