Knol Opens Up

Some time back we posted about Google’s wisdom of the crowds encyclopedia knol, the idea being that it would be useful to have experts write about what they know and authenticate the pieces by attaching their names and info to them. Google now tells us that the experimental phase is over and you, too, can contribute to the store of the world’s knowledge by either writing your own knol or by making suggestions to those of others, suggestions they’re free to accept or not, of course (a process Google has called “moderated collaboration”).

I have to say that thus far the expertise on display is depressingly medical. When I visited the site, the knols featured had to do with diabetes, lung cancer, tooth pain and (!) toilet clogs. These beauties were followed by knols on such topics as diarrhea, facial rejuvenation, low back pain and bronchosopy. (I think the knols you’ll see when you visit are drawn at random from the whole pool, so your mileage may vary.)

A search for law turned up not an article but a bio for a law prof, which seems about right somehow.

The thing has a way to go.


  1. Does seem a tad presumptuous. But I think you’re being generous in your assessment. Let’s look at some non-medical examples.

    In the one area where we are experts, Slaw, the essay is quite dogmatic and not at all authoritative. The French and Italians would never concede the primacy of cole slaw.

    Film Financing: an overview of global incentives isn’t definitive, but rather an overview table from from ScreenDaily, May 2008, which doesn’t scratch the surface. Heenan Blaikie’s forty page summary of the Canadian incentives is only one jurisdiction. Knol’s author appears to be fairly young – apologies if I got the wrong Twain Luu. Her film review is a good student essay, nothing more or less.

    The tourist advice in Things to do in Singapore seems more at the level of Trip Advisor.

    All in all, Wikipedia shouldn’t be quaking yet.

  2. And ironically, the best place to check out the debate on Google’s strategy, is on Wikipedia.

  3. hi Simon,

    Thanks for your comments. It is quite a good thing to be considered “young”. At the moment, I’m experimenting with Knol. My entries are certainly not as authoritative as some of the film financing guidebooks out there which are 250+ pages of year-long research.

    For me, this is just the surface of what this form of publishing may offer rather than the finished product at the moment.

  4. Thanks Twain for joining our discussion on Slaw.