Knol: Wikipediaing for Money?

24 07 2008

Yesterday Google launched Knol, a new collaborative encyclopedia project. At Knol, small teams of authors write articles together. They can monetize the work through AdSense rev-sharing and retain full control to pre-approve any changes submitted by other users. Knol is being presented as Google’s Wikipedia competitor , a show of Google’s continued entry into the content provider space.

But there’s something else I find fascinating about this project…

Knol gives us an opportunity to conduct a fabulous experiment. It pits Wikipedia, an open, voluntary encyclopedia project against one where contributors are paid and retain full control over their entries. It’s the market model vs. open, peer production.

Which model of knowledge production will be most successful? For years, we’ve marveled at the amount of time and participation that Wikipedia generates. But we’ve never had the opportunity to examine how a similar project might fare if all contributors were paid. Knol might give us a glimpse into this alternative world.

We’ll get a chance to see who participates, why they participate, and what’s ultimately produced.

If the homo economicus model accurately describes human behavior, Knol should be poised to generate more and better content

But I have my doubts. Lets see…