A Knol Milestone

iconIt has been a year since I first wrote about Knol. Knol is Google's Web encyclopedia project. (A "knol" is their "unit of knowledge")

Unlike Wikipedia, Knol tells you who wrote the article and their qualifications. Google started with an invited group of people who know a particular subject and asked them to write an authoritative article about it.

One idea behind the knol project is to highlight authors. We all know that much of what is written on the web has no apparent "author" and this is a different approach.

I posted an update last summer when Knol officially launched. There wasn't much to review at that point, so I went back this past weekend to update.

If one of your problems with students using Wikipedia is that you don't know who wrote the article or what their "authority" is in the subject, perhaps Knol is something you would recommend. Even Google suggests that the articles be used as you would use an encyclopedia.

"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. The goal is for knols to cover all topics, from scientific concepts, to medical information, from geographical and historical, to entertainment, from product information, to how-to-fix-it instructions. Google will not serve as an editor in any way, and will not bless any content. All editorial responsibilities and control will rest with the authors. We hope that knols will include the opinions and points of view of the authors who will put their reputation on the line. Anyone will be free to write. For many topics, there will likely be competing knols on the same subject. Competition of ideas is a good thing."

How would you feel about a student using a knol information on eclipses written by Jay Pasachoff, an astronomer from Williams College and Chair of the International Astronomical Union's Working Group on Solar Eclipses?

Knol hit a milestone recently when the 100,000th knol was published earlier this month according to Google. They point to articles from sinus infections and Arctic exploration to long distance motorcycle riding and the Amphilinidea.

The Knol interface is now available in eight languages (Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish) and knols have been written in 59 different languages to date.

For comparison, there are currently 262 language editions of Wikipedia - of these, 24 have over 100,000 articles and 81 have over 1,000 articles.

It's a good language lesson to students. Users are helping them translate Knol into many more languages using the Google in Your Language console.

New features on the Knol site that were requested by their beta authors include usage stats showing reader activity on knols and rich media embedding (videos, spreadsheets, forms, slideshows, etc.). You can see improvements tracked on their announcement and release notes.

Most authors choose to accept moderated edits from their audience (that's not required), so if you want to
suggest an improvement, you click edit as with a wiki. In that case, the author(s) will review the act and decide what to do with your suggested edit.


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