Harry McCracken on Knol

The purpose of today’s short blog is to draw further attention (where necessary) to three stimulating and informative articles by a senior IT expert and former Editor-in-Chief of the prestigious magazine PC World, Harry McCracken. The 3 timely contributions raise two separate but connected issues concerning the Google colossus: its voracious appetite for IT projects in very different fields and the recent unveiling to netizens of the beta version of Google’s penultimate tentacle, Knol, as a new (and commercial) competitor in the online encyclopedia market. (And only a few days ago the IT world witnessed the baptism of their Chrome Browser…)

In just under a year, McCracken has shared his changing views about Knol on three occasions:

a basically negative reception of the announcement of the Knol project:

16 December 2007: Knol: ‘Google Ennui Sets In, at Least For Me’;

an optimistic greeting of the recent launch of the first Knol beta offerings:

23 July 2008: ‘Knol’s Well: Google’s Encyclopedia Looks Cool’;

an expression of doubts about perceived weaknesses and inconsistencies in the Knol project based on a small sample of comparisons between the larger number of Knols currently available and Wikipedia offerings:

1 September 2008: ‘Google’s Knol: So Far, Not So Good’.

If you have not read Harry’s evidence and arguments contained in the latest of these three (which provides links to the two previous articles), I strongly recommend it to you.

Google’s Knol: So Far, Not so Good.

Of particular interest is that although, as McCracken admits, his opinion has twice veered sharply, there is a consistency in his concerns that in addition to its phenomenally successful stellar enterprises, Google has shown a tendency to launch projects which do not achieve the sort of resounding success that Google Search and Google Maps, for example, have garnered. McCracken’s reservation is that, although he still feels the idea of Knol is cool, on the present preliminary evidence, there is reasonable cause to suspect that Knol may end up as one of that second category.

Just one short quotation to whet your appetite further:

“…Google is better at getting things started than finishing them. Services like Google Base and Google Page Creator remain rough drafts at best, eons after they debuted. Even a company with resources as vast as Google can’t do everything and do everything well.”

In the two days following that blog article on 1 September 2008, Harry has already posted a barrage of articles about Google’s launch of the beta of their Chrome Web Browser project.

Perhaps he never sleeps.

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