Thursday, July 24, 2008

Knol - A review

I write this like I write some movie review which comes after much awaiting by fans. This is not a movie review. Unless you have been living in a cave you probably know about Knol by now. Knol is Google's answer to Wikipedia.

So, the search engine giant has created an online encyclopedia for us, so that if wikipedia's answers and the numerous web links wikipedia provides isn't sufficient then we can go over to Knol to get brainier.

I went over and checked the site out. It is impressive the way Google has set it up. Here is how I understand it works:
1. You write a Knol (or an article).
2. Some others who read it make suggestions.
3. You have the control to either make edits based on their suggestions or not.

This throws up many issues: As with Wikipedia Edit Wars, if you disagree with someone you can create your own knol on the subject or worse, can write a very biased article about someone or something and get a few people to agree with you and get your article popular. Imagine how politics would be played on Knol.

The articles themselves are very good and would probably take an afternoon or two just to go through one of them. See the articles on Type 1 Diabetes and While the depth of the article and the knowledge of the author is appreciated, there certainly is lots of information to go through.

What does the above picture mean? Probably nothing. Late nights on TV there used to be ads about random stuff with women just smiling and only at the end of the ad you would realise how dumb those ads are. The articles have pictures very unrelated to the actual article. Not sure what they want us to look for here.

Also, as someone pointed out there are no actual links to other articles within articles. When I first learned about wikipedia it was hailed as the perfect example of internet working with links to other places within articles so that internet grows. None of this here in Knol.

While there are certainly other concerns about search results (will a Knol article rate higher than anything else?) or about how multiple articles on the same subject will be handled, Knol is certainly a good way to get quality information from qualified people.