A recent Google Alert from CMSWire released news that Google has begun beta on a new project called Knol. The January 2nd, 2008 Press Release announced Google's intent to move deeper into KM with a Wikipedia-like site.
Knol is the name of the project, and it is also used to describe a specific page within the project, which is a "unit of knowledge."
A check of the Official Google Blog, found a December 13th announcement from VP Engineering, Udi Manber. The main goal of the project is to create a way for people to easily contribute knowledge. In the beta format, Google is inviting a small circle of authors to contribute pages/articles/knols on subjects in which they are expert.
One difference from Wikipedia is that Knol will acknowledge the author of a unit of knowledge, and let the community contribute, but in the form of comments and supplemental information. Once Knol is open to the public, questions, reviews and ratings can also be added by the community, and Google will be responsible for providing an effective ranking for searches.
Google intends to provide easy-to-use tools for the writing and editing. The hosting and the formatting will all be managed by Google leaving the authors to focus on the units of knowledge, units that will cover subjects from the scientific to pop culture. The content will not be edited by the host, and the host will not bless any articles.
Important disclaimer - quality of knols will not be policed, except by the community in their reviews, ratings, comments and questions.
Another striking difference between this collection of knowledge and that contained in Wikipedia, or even About.com, is that authors will be encouraged to put their reputation on the line with their opinions, and that sectors of knowledge may have competitive knols, thus acknowledging different points of views and different trains of thought on a subject.
Last, and certainly most interesting, is that an author can agree to include ads in their unit of knowledge. Google promises, "substantial revenue share from the proceeds of those ads" to the associated author.
Check out the beta view in this knol.