Google: Embrace, Improve, Extinguish
Embrace, improve and extinguish. That’s what Google has done to search, Web advertising, digital mapping and the like; now it plans to do it to online encyclopedias as well.
Yesterday the company announced Knol (defined as a “unit of knowledge”) , its improvement on the social encyclopedia. With it, the company hopes to encourage experts on a particular subject to write authoritative articles about them, which it can then rank. “The key idea behind the Knol project is to highlight authors,” Google VP of Engineering Udi Manber wrote on the company’s blog. “Books have authors’ names right on the cover, news articles have bylines, scientific articles always have authors–but somehow the Web evolved without a strong standard to keep authors’ names highlighted. A Knol on a particular topic is meant to be the first thing someone who searches for this topic for the first time will want to read.”
Oh, and one other thing: “At the discretion of the author, a Knol may include ads. If an author chooses to include ads, Google will provide the author with substantial revenue share from the proceeds of those ads.”
Interesting idea, developing an alternative to Wikipedia that rewards contributors for their work with not just a byline, but financial compensation as well. And an easy way to redirect all the traffic Google sends to Wikipedia back to Google itself.