Through Michael’s blog I just came across this post by Eszter Hargittai about the ‘knol’ plans of Google. I agree about the name not being the best choice, at least for the Netherlands. In Dutch knol means tuber, definitely not a very sexy word. In the province Zeeland where I grew up it also means the huge type of horse that was traditionally used to work in the fields.
Now the more important question. What will Google do with knol (and Wikipedia) in its search results? For sure it will be normally be added to the results. It could either be as a special link, or in the results. If it is placed between the organic results it has to compete with Wikipedia results, which usually rank very high in Google. If knol is placed separately, it can be highlighted. This would be a more obvious departure from ‘fair’ ranking and search neutrality. It is hard to imagine a third way, which would respect this criterion. A Wikipedia competitor is mostly welcome however, so if they find a way to add knol and not push away valuable results, thus increasing diversity it is not a step backwards.
I expect Google will do anything to minimalize the visibility of its editorial control in this matter. It might be able to leverage the control it gives to users to optiomize results; control that in the case of knol can ultimately be used to receive and increase revenue.