Push-Pull with Google Knol

UPDATE: As of May 2012, Google has shut down Knol while Wikipedia continues to accelerate in both content and use.

The moment I read this announcement of Google’s Knol initiative, I thought, “Oh no! They’re going to kill Wikipedia” and felt a real push-pull. Push as in pushing it away ’cause I love Wikipedia, pull since Google “gets it” on such a massive scale.

Then I paused, let it sink in for a moment and next realized this initiative fits in perfectly with where I believe blogging, social networks, Twitter communications, Skype Prime and all this new webby goodness is headed: more and more ‘containers’ and ‘methods’ for our personal value propositions, knowledge and insight to be created and delivered and upon which others can build (and we can monetize!).

Though I don’t believe experts exist (experts are usually the few of us who have more information and a wealth of experience at some point in time), nothing of any import or relevance happens without building upon what’s come before and the people who’ve gathered that information, have the experiences and the gained insights we need. This is especially true in science and medicine, but the value people place into the world with their work, their insights and their knowledge informs and provides the building blocks upon which ever-increasing value is created. You know, the old “they stood on the shoulders of giants” axiom.

With more of us carving out areas of focus that allow us to consult, publish and provide our intrinsic value in specific niches, I can easily visualize people (Google uses ‘authors’) who have high value being ones who create and deliver these knol’s, or units of knowledge, upon which others can discover and see patterns. New value will be created by the insights and knowledge provided while the cycle times necessary for knowledge to move around the world will compress and shorten dramatically.

Though I won’t really be able to form an opinion until I see Google’s Knol in action, I don’t think it will, in any way-shape-or-form, obviate Wikipedia since they’re two different focuses.

A form (like a book, a TV show, a movie, a video, a Facebook Wall, a web site, a blog) sets expectations in the reader/viewer/user so one can quickly discover and extract the value delivered within the container and know where to find that value. Knol may be just such a container and could become real stand-alone value (probably from academics), but for others a new teaser, loss-leader, all intended to be a player in the labor game of the future. Maybe, just maybe, publishing in Krol will become table-stakes to be in the world’s labor force game.

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  1. SuezanneC Baskerville on December 16, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    We’ve been able to move data (knowledge) around the world quite rapidly for a long time now. Telegraph and radio move data nearly instantly.

  2. Steve Borsch on December 16, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    @Suezanne: I was surprised with the naivete of your comment then went to your blog focused on the metaverse. Guess you’re just kiddin’ me, right?

    Otherwise let’s discuss the relative merits of moving your atoms from San Francisco to New York by horseback vs. the train in the 1800’s and today via that newfangled thingy, the airplane. All would get you from point A to point B…but methinks the jet is a tad bit more efficient and has revolutionized moving our atoms around the world, don’t you?

    Suezanne, you know there is no comparison of a Wikipedia or Google Krol to the telegraph or radio in the same way that encapsulating knowledge in, for example, your blog is the same as you writing a letter to the editor of the Chronicle in 1950 or being one of the few to be published at any point in the pre-Internet days.

  3. Steve Borsch on December 16, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    @Suezanne: Should’ve added that we could also discuss the relative merits of NOT moving your atoms at all…but rather the essence of your consciousness comprised in the bits delivered by the avatar you created and the intention you exhibit in your virtual interactions.

  4. SuezanneC Baskerville on December 20, 2007 at 3:39 am

    Wikipedia wasn’t the first wiki. It didn’t enable people to do anything faster than it’s predecessors. It is just one of the ones that got popular.

    Horses don’t transmit atoms as quickly as jets do. Sending a letter to the editor is slower that sending an email to the editor because the letter moves slower. Radio waves aren’t moving faster over distance now than they ever have.

    More bits per second can be transmitted in a useful way now than used to be possible because of improvements in hardware.

    Things such as wikis made it easy and fast to edit documents without changing the rate at which the data moves. The data is moved more intelligently, not faster.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.