Google continues to take a page from the early Microsoft play-book: Take someone else's cool idea, do it better, and steamroll the competition. Next up: a human-generated Wikipedia and About.com (NYT) killer, Knols.
Knols provides web based templates with which experts can write posts about areas of expertise. Readers can then rank (and link to) the posts, which affects where they appear in Google search rankings. Google will share ad revenue with writers, thus providing an economic incentive to participate. (Full details from Google's Udi Manber here. Example of a Knol here.)
The success of Knols will depend on execution: specifically, whether it's easy and cool. But the model has several advantages over existing competitors...
* Author branding. Wikipedia is a miraculous phenomenon, with the true miracle being that so many experts are willing to waste so much time creating content they'll never get any credit or money for. Knols credits authors: The posts are by-lined.
* Author compensation. Wikipedia is created by a
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