It’s rare these days to run a research-related search query on Google and not find the first one or two results to be related or exact Wikipedia pages on the topic. This is because Wikipedia is theoretically exactly what Google loves – the site is enormous (try over 26 million pages indexed as an estimate), it’s trusted user-generated content and the site has hundreds of thousands of links to it both from those who rip its content and those who link out to extra information – content ripping would make up the bulk of them I’d speculate.
Wikipedia is a not-for-profit website, however, as reported on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Google is now working on a new Internet encyclopedia that will consist of material submitted by people who want to be identified as experts – and possibly profit from their knowledge. Submissions to what Google is calling “Knol” (short for Unit of Knowledge) are by invitation only at this stage during the testing phase, however eventually it is planned to allow anyone to make submissions.
“There are millions of people who possess useful knowledge that they would love to share, and there are billions of people who can benefit from it,” Ubi Manber, Google’s vice president of engineering, wrote in the company’s posting about the new service. “We believe that many do not share that knowledge today simply because it is not easy enough to do that.”