Not long ago, an "unpublished" work was one that had never been published. Boing Boing comments moderator Teresa Nielsen Hayden unintentionally popularized a new meaning of the word when she used it to describe posts the Boingers had erased from their site: "We unpublished our own work. There's a big difference between that and censorship." Now, Google's Wikipedia competitor Knol has completely broken the word's meaning. "The requested biographical knol has been unpublished by the author." Doesn't that sound like I wrote and then deleted my bio, rather than that I've yet to write it? Don't go hunting through Google's cache for it — you'll be sadly un-successful.
Why did I let Jackson West take a vacation? While our associate editor was away, we actually wrote something nice about Gavin Newsom — and he only had to save San Francisco from a rogue IT guy to do it! Microsoft's Windows chief, Kevin Johnson, ended up in Sunnyvale, Calif. — but not, as he'd hoped, in the corner office at Yahoo HQ. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg flubbed more media interviews this week, prompting us to suggest he get help. Maybe he could take tips from the Internet-famous Julia Allison, who crashed his developers' conference?Allison's sort-of ex, Digg cofounder Kevin Rose, said he was buying Google. Surely not for Knol, Google's weak attempt at taking on Wikipedia — at launch, its search engine didn't even work. Jackson, come back and help us make sense of this crazy business! (Photo by Jason Calacanis)
Google's first day of public access to its Wikipedia-but-wonkier Knol site feels rigged by typical Valley PR: Knol's front page lists a series of medical and home-economics articles more akin to Reader's Digest than the Internet. Everyone knows the true value of Knol will be its comprehensive catalog of Cowboy Troy lyrics and first-person bios like the one for Michael Lee written by, of course, "Mike Lee, Internet Entrepreneur." Google, a former search engine company, hasn't hooked up the search box on Knol's homepage. But you can find knols by including the quoted phrase "a knol by" in a regular Googling. Find any good ones? Send in the stupidest/funniest Knols you can find. This is going to have even more legs than the bulldog pics.
The back-channel chatter on Google's Wikipedia-like Knol database, which opened to public editing today, is simple: Google plans to use Knol to replace Wikipedia, then serve ads on it.Jimmy Wales's open encyclopedia sits conspicuously high in Google's results for just about any search. See above: There are only two links in Google to the iffy Wikipedia page about me. Both come from other Wikipedia entries. Yet Google ranks that page higher than any of the articles from my 12-year online writing career. Whether Google artificially boosts Wikipedia's rank or not is a popular drinking topic among search engine optimizers. But Google's certainly not trying to push Wikipedia down any, as they've done with sites deemed problematic in the past. Wikipedia provides a handy reference-book-like entry among the first three results for most searches on famous people or popular topics. Great for us. But imagine if every customer clickthrough to Wikipedia could be rerouted to an AdSense-powered page from Google's own servers. Would they do that? Hell, they'd be stupid not to.
You guys are slow! Conservative pundit Rachel Marsden has already penned roving Wikipedia cofounder Jimmy Wales's first biography on Knol, Google's write-it-yourself compendium of articles. "And it will be a closed collaboration," she adds. Unlike Wikipedia, Knol lets an article's initial author control all subsequent edits. Other contributors can write their own articles about Jimmy, but Marsden's prank hints that Knol fights — in which multiple people attempt to author the definitive entry on a topic — will be a lot more fun to watch than re-re-re-reversions of the same old Wikipedia page.
Google's Wikipedia competitor, Knol, is now open to the public. Take a hint from journalist Cyrus Farivar: "Yes, I added an entry on myself to Wikipedia. Why haven't you?" Unlike Wikipedia, Knol doesn't yet have complex rules requiring you to use a sock puppet account to write about yourself. Go literally make history!
Google Knol may or may not ever come to fruition, but Hitwise was kind enough to put together this chart of its potential rivals in the market for websites which answer your questions. And yes, Jason Calacanis's Mahalo is on there. You have to squint. It's way, way, way down there at the bottom. That little sliver of green. No wonder Calacanis is always commenting here with a link to the site. Think he'll do it again on this post?
"It's trying to set up an economy of writing and the Web is a great place to try to experiment with different economies. Wikipedia has already succeeded with one, and these are two different styles." — Ward Cunningham, inventor of the wiki and a Wikipedia board member, responding to Google's competing Knol, an experiment to create its own repository of content. And I thought the all-volunteer Wikipedia was just beginning to experiment with economies themselves. [Read/WriteWeb]
On his way back from Paris this morning, Mahalo CEO Jason Calacanis realized he had left his passport at his hotel. Savvy Web 3.0 guru that he is, Calacanis sent the above Twitter to the whole world. OMG! This whole thing is my fault for hassling him so much — over the phone, via IM — during what should have been a relaxing trip to Paris. Mr. Calacanis sir, here's the best I could do on short notice. Hope it helps!