Anil Dash talks about why this is (another) conflict of interest for google, though a clever business move to grab more advertising dollars from wikipedia-like traffic.http://www.dashes.co...-theory-of-mind.html
Worse, Knol shares with Google Book Search the problem of being both indexed by Google and hosted by Google. This presents inherent conflicts in the ranking of content, as well as disincentives for content creators to control the environment in which their content is published. This necessarily disadvantages competing search engines, but more importantly eliminates the ability for content creators to innovate in the area of content presentation or enhancement.
I like the idea of sharing revenue with authors.. and Google consistently does good technical work.
But repeatedly google has demonstrated that they want to get their hooks in and dominate every aspect of the internet for the sole purpose of serving advertisements. The fact that their search engine is so dominant and so dramatically governs the income made from advertisements means that the entire content of the web is warping itself to please google and get better placement in search results.
The game is to get their ads on all high-traffic sites (wikipedia for example), or when that doesn't work, create a replacement service that they can put ads on. All of this would just be a little troubling on its own -- but the fact that they run the largest search engine on the planet, which purports to be neutral, but has every incentive in the world to send people to sites which run google ads, is a blatant conflict of interest.
I don't doubt that google will do a good job with the content and technology behind knol pages.
But when the google search engine has to decide between the ranking of wikipedia result page and a knoll result page, and no one on the planet is allowed to understand how google magically scores the sites -- surely that's not acceptable.
I've written about this before on the site, and i think the solution is really clear. It is a huge conflict of interest for a search engine to be making a profit from sending people to some pages instead of others. Period. We should not be supporting such search engines.
Put another way: It's just not ok for the same company to be the foremost authority for ranking websites and at the same time making billions of dollars based on ranking certain sites above others. That is what google is increasingly all about and it's not ok.