Sorry for the mixed metaphor, but I assure you, it gets worse.
Google may be taking a shot at Wikipedia (and similar projects) with its newly unveiled Knol project. Knol was announced many moons ago but has been under cover and password protected with only a few special people allowed in to see what was going on and contribute. Now, it is “open to everyone” according to an announcement made this week.
What the heck are we talking about?
A ‘Knol” is a unit of knowledge …. a write up, blog-post or wiki-article-like about a particular topic, from an authoritative source.
The key principle behind Knol is authorship. Every knol will have an author (or group of authors) who put their name behind their content. It’s their knol, their voice, their opinion. We expect that there will be multiple knols on the same subject, and we think that is good.
Google provides tools for authors to work together to develop the Knols, and the Knols will accept comments. In addition, because of an agreement made with New Yorker magazine, you get to put up to one New Yorker cartoon on each Knol.
I typed in several keywords in the search of the Knol site, just to see if I could assess the quality of the Knols vis-a-vis topics for which I have authoritative knowledge. None of the terms resulted in a match.
As far as I can tell the Knols are not organized in any way that lets you really get an overview of what there is, but then again, neither is Wikipedia, now that I think of it. A lok at what is present indicate that the vast majority of entries are medical. Here is a sampling of topics:
BRAIN: CT, MRI
Acute Renal Failure
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Chicago Hot Dogs
OK, so there is something for which I have authoritative knowledge: Barbecue. Let’s have a look…
… dum de dum de dum dum de dum (that’s you waiting around while I read) de dum dedum dedum…..
OK, let’s break it down:
Some folks think that barbecue, like jazz, is an American invention. Alas, neither the cooking method nor the word is American.
Alas? Are we upset about this? Or is this a trite and hackneyed word choice. Alas, I think the latter.
Roasting meat over a fire and smoking meat slowly have been around since naked humans lived in caves. European artists have painted pictures of barbecues since pig hair bristles were first wrapped around a stick to make a brush (the ox roast shown here took place in Italy in the 1500s).
Huh? What is a naked human living in a cave? What that a phase in human history, or is the concept of the ‘cave man’ a trite and hackneyed device married to a pernicious falsehood. Whatever…
Looking over the rest of the entry I see that it is all about the origin of the word and a somewhat amusing essay of the meaning of barbecue. There is no information on how do throw a braii, throw brats on the Weber, or barbeque the ribs.
This particular authoratitive entry is by Craig Meathead Goldwyn, wine and beer critic and Kansas City Barbecue Association Certified BBQ Judge. His talents are regarding barbecue do not come out in this Knol. He should write another one.
I’m sure Knol is going to be great, but it might take some time to build up content. I would love to hear from Wikipedia authors (I know you are out there) on this: Are the things you like about Wikipedia embodied in this new project, and the things you don’t like about Wikipedia left aside? Or the reverse? Or what?