Tag Archives: encyclopedia

Encyclopedia Britannica sez “if you can’t beat ’em, imitate ’em”

Old encyclopediasI consider it one of the greatest privileges of my childhood that we had a full Encyclopedia Britannica in the home, and I spent many rainy-day hours just leafing through it and soaking up data about the world. Ah, happy days! [image by Goran Zec]

Had Wikipedia been available back then, I’d have probably developed myopia, RSI and a bad posture far earlier in my life; hyperlinking and universal access are the two “killer apps” of encyclopedias, as anyone who has fallen down the Wikipedia rabbit-hole will know.

Indeed, it appears that even the mighty Encyclopedia Britannica, after years of bitching about Wikipedia’s openness and inaccuracies (the latter complaint, it transpires, being somewhat hypocritical), has realised that locking material away doesn’t work in the new information economy, and they’re granting people the ability to link directly to their content with their WebShare program. [via Phil Bradley]

It’s not quite free yet; they’re granting access to “anyone who publishes material on the web on a regular basis” (bloggers, in other words) and you have to apply for an account (so only bloggers they like), but it’s a step into the Twentyfirst Century for a hidebound institution. Heck, they’ve even got a blog and a Twitter feed.

With Knol, Google enters the knowledge market

The top part of an example knol

Google has announced a new wikipedia-like project, entitled ‘knol’. Short for knowledge, the project aims to have an encyclopedia type experience but with more emphasis on the author, rather than anonymous multiple contributors. There will not be editorial contributions from Google, but authors including ads will get revenue.

An example knol has been put up on the Google blog. Google says that the emphasis will be on large numbers of posts, ranked by users and views to encourage quality. Peer review seems to encourage good writers to become better rated and more successful. Added to the potential to earn money, this endeavour could provide a good potential way to create a freelance online writer business model. It looks like Knol will be less comprehensive/consistent across the entire volume of data than Wikipedia, but with better quality at the top end. It’s a similar model to Mahalo, only with the backing of perhaps the biggest internet company out there.

[via boing boing, image is the example of a Google Knol]