I’ve been sitting on this one for a while as I read countless reports on “Knol vs. Wikipedia”, “Why [Knol|Wikipedia] is dead”, “Knol has failed”, “Why Didn’t Google Kill Knol?”, etc.
I’m going to keep this one short as a) I see that a lot of people already have already come to conclusion I present below, b) I have a raging cold and want to get back to bed. Check out the comments on “Why Has Knol Survived Google’s Ophan-Killing Spree?“, btw I haven’t even read the article, just the comments.
So here is the deal with Knol:
1) Knol allows you to select New Yorker comics to insert into your Knol for free, WTF? If you are a Seinfeld fan, you’ll appreciate the comedy behing how cryptic these comics are. Well, it turns out Udi Manber is a huge fan. Who is Udi Manber? He is the Google’s VP of Engineering, Core Search.
2) Knol is Udi Manber’s 20%-time project. Udi Manber controls the levers operating Google’s empire, this is important stuff. What Manber wants, Manber gets so this project will never get killed (unless Udi kills it).
3) Udi Manber has a small little goal for Google – “human understanding and intent”. How is this done? Semantics and the semantic web. Manber has been involved in search for a long time and has published many papers and written many applications to harness the power of words/computing to make a better search experience.
4) So the point of Knol? Provide a corpus of structured knowledge to experiment with Manber’s search technologies.
So Knol is not about competing with Wikipedia, it is not about making money for authors or Google via adsense. Google couldn’t care less about these things, they (Manber) want to improve search. Once you can crack the “human intent” nut, search is yours for the taking.