Google has announced a new beta project called Knol, described by some (ok, me) as the mutant love child of Wikipedia and Seth Godin's Squidoo. I'd explain more about how it works, but honestly, that just about covers it.
(Disclosure: I'm a moderator on Squidoo's forum and I do some volunteer testing & such for them. Of course I have a bias. What could possibly be duller than a blog without a bias?)
I can't figure out What problem Google is solving with this. What problem for customers and users, that is, not for Google itself. Knol isn't baked yet, so maybe it's going to get a lot more fabulous. At the moment it looks a little, well, underwhelming.
It's not going to be easier to use than Squidoo, unless Google has a new technology that detects brain waves and translates them into code (I'm not writing that possibility off). And individual author creation means that it's not likely to develop the authority (notwithstanding the None of Us Is as Dumb as All of Us factor) of Wikipedia.
So what does it do for us that we can't get now?
It's Google, which means they have unlimited resources, brainpower and capital. That puts it in contrast to Squidoo, which has a tiny staff and gets a little frayed around the edges. Once in awhile Squidoo has system outages and their staff tends to say stuff like "we can keep you informed or we can fix the problem, which do you want?"
(I am far from the most hardassed boss in the world, but that particular post would have resulted in a subsequent apology to my customers. Not important, moving on now. Still, if you aren't Squidoo, don't do that.)
Squidoo is little. It's messy. Sometimes things don't work in IE, or you can't quite find out how a feature works. It's really good, but it isn't perfect.
It's also got a passionate community of "lensmasters," a great look and feel, and six million unique visitors a month. People create their own Squid graphics. They build Squidoo chat and information sites and training videos. They ponder what they will wear to the first Squidoo conference. They make up silly names for themselves. They proudly identify as Giant Squids or Squidizens or Fresh Squids. Some of them even make folding money from it. (Like making a living on eBay, it takes time and work, but it's possible.)
People who make Squidoo lenses have a relationship with Squidoo that matters to them. They care about it, not just because it's a potential source of income.
Know anyone who makes up funny names for how they're using AdSense? Me neither.
Squidoo is, for lack of a better term, loveable
As my bias and I look at this new Knol creature, I see the potential for something that's perfect but not very good. I'm sure the software is flawless, or at least that it will become flawless in short order. But looking at the page, I don't see what will make a Knol loveable.
Since I have no objectivity whatsoever, how about you? I'd love to hear what you think of the two side to side.
So it's scrappy, smart little Squidoo vs. the new Borg, Google having officially taken that title from Microsoft some time this summer. There are a couple of competitors--HubPages comes to mind--but this is the first serious one. Who's going to win the insanely-easy-to-create focused knowledge Web page war?
Not sure, but it's bound to be an interesting game to watch.
Related reading: Seth's classy post
(P.S. The "Knol" name has given some of us some problems. It looks a little too much like LOL, maybe. I think this is a real opportunity to improve Knol's loveability, though: Knolcats. Remember, you saw it here first.)