The Google Blog recently announced its upcoming knols project, currently in private beta. Knols (I hate that name!), or units of knowledge, will be user-contributed articles on various topics, similar to those on Wikipedia. However, unlike Wikipedia, authors will be clearly highlighted, so that the writers’ authority and credibility can be taken into account when reading knols. Readers can rate, review, and propose edits for knols, and knols will be open to everyone.
Google’s brand and web presence will likely catapult knols contributions into the stratosphere right out of the gate, as users scramble to contribute authoritative articles on all manner of topics. Wikipedia’s reputation as the de facto standard encyclopedia on the web is not going to be endangered overnight, but watch for knols to start attracting serious attention once it emerges from beta.