Paranoia around Google Knol


The blogosphere and the twittersphere (is that a real word yet?) are going crazy around Google Knol, mostly it is FOG (= Fear Of Google) and paranoia. I do not see much difference between what Google have been doing for years and what they will be doing with Knol.

What is Google Knol?
Google Knol will allow you to write an article about a specific subject. Google will host the article and hightlight it when somebody search for releated keywords in their search engine. If there are several related Knol’s then the users will help rank them and in that way provide quality assurance. The writers of a Knol have the option to get a share (50% is the speculation) on all advertising revenue Google makes from the article.

Read more about Google Knol in the Official Google Blog, Read/Write Web or TechCrunch.

Why the Paranoia?
The paranoia around Knol is that Google will kill Squidoo (whatever) and Wikipedia (yeah, right) by rolling over them with their user base and Mr. Burns-like piles of cash. The irony is that by doing all the complaining about Knol the blogosphere are once again giving Google lot’s of free publicity. I agree that it is a bit sad that Google can kill off complete ecosystems of startups just by releasing a semi-done project to their gigantic user base, but sorry to say that is the name of the game. Microsoft did the same for years, and before that it was IBM. Even Saint Jobs at Apple does this. It is nothing specific to the internet industry either. The key is that in the Web 2.0 world it is possible for startups to move and innovate smarter and quicker than the big boys, so if Squidoo and Wikipedia do not adapt and join the deadpool because of that then all I can say is R.I.P.

Another big reason for all the writing about Knol is of course that posts about Google gets a lot of attention and traffic, and thus make more money to the writer via Google AdSense.

Knol is just an extension to what Google is doing already
Google is already based on user generated content. Even their revolutionary Page Rank algorithm is based on user generated content. Think about it – every time you make a hyperlink to a page you tell Google that this page is a little bit more important than before and that it probably has something to do with the page you link from. If you make money from your page it is very likely that you do that via Google AdSense, so Google is already paying you for your content.

For Knol Google will host the content themselves, and that is basically the only difference. The content is still user generated and you can still make money on the content via Google. The only thing you really need to be aware of when adding content to Knol is that Google and not you will own that content, but other than that I see no reason for the paranoia.

First mover advantage
While the still unreleased Knol gets hyped I suggest that you start writing some Knol articles about your area of expertise to be ready to add them to Knol ASAP when it launches. Of course you need to give the article an angle that promotes you and your site. Since you will be one of the first Knol’s out there you might use this to get more traffic. Another good SEO tool.

Update: Read this very interesting article from TechCrunch analyzing Google Knol

Is Google more evil than Wal-Mart, Microsoft and Darth Vader combined (or are they as good as ice cream)?


Googles famous motto is “don’t be evil”, but in reality it is more like an information Pacman and should have the motto “must eat all data”. There is no doubt that Google is the current leader on the internet and one of the companies that really enables the Web 2.0 explosion. At the same time it is also one of the most feared companies, and is more and more being viewed as an evil empire. This is just what happened to Microsoft in the 90s. So is Google acctually more evil than Wal-Mart, Microsoft and Darth Vader?

To be clear this is not another FOG (=Fear Of Google) post, there are more than enough of those out there in the blogosphere, it is more some thoughs about why Google is starting to get the Mr Evil image.

More evil than Wal-Mart?
Wal-Mart relies on huge scale advantages and is famous for killing of small mom-and-pop stores in the cities it invades. The Web 2.0 space has very few mom-and-pop stores, the corresponding would instead be the 2 geek startup that hacked something cool looking together in 2 months using Ruby on Rails and then gets a lot of buzz. These minor startups are very vulnerable to what the Mountain View gigant does. The addition of MyMaps to Google Maps picked of quite a few startups, as did Google Analytics. So I think that small startups that does not really have a full fledged application, but more just a hyped feature (as is the case for most Web 2.0 startups) do right in fearing Google. For them Google is the same as Wal-Mart.

More evil than Microsoft?
Microsoft ruled the desktop, Microsoft ruled the OS, Microsoft ruled the office. This is still true, but the grip is weakening more and more, and Google is the main enemy. When Microsoft was the big bad wolf that dominated every part of business it entered. It was (and is) a real threat to any big and small business. Guess what, the same is now true for Google. To not be aware of what Google does is foolish for anybody in the Internet or Computer industry. With it’s massive userbase and bottom less bank accounts it can enter and dominate almost any market it sets it’s mind to. So that would make Google the same as Microsoft version 1999.

More evil than Darth Vader?
I have never met the Google founders, but I very much doubt that they have a constant asthma attack like good old Mr Skywalker Senior has. Anyway Darth Vader is one of the coolest villans ever, to I do think that comparing Google with him is a bit unfair to both parties. Darth Vader has cool TIE-fighters, Google has a replica of SpaceShipOne in the reception of the Googleplex, but the similarities pretty much end there. Still, comparing Google to Darth Vader makes for a good subject for the post, please forgive me for that.

As good as ice-cream?
So far Google has just been compared to evil things, so let’s compare them to something good instead, like ice-cream! Acctually Google has some advantages over ice-cream – almost everything is free at Google, while most ice-cream shops insist on getting my money. Google is dominating the way they are because they are providing great products that people want. We all use Google Search, and personally I am a total Google Desktop junkie and also use Google Analytics, Speradsheets, Docs etc. So as long as they are not more evil than Wal-Mart and Microsoft combined, and as long as there are not a better alternative I will stay a loyal Google user.

The key thing is of course how Google are going to use all the data they collect, the risk is that they will really invade privacy. But hey, they are fighting Paypal with Google Checkout, so how evil can they really be?