Sunday, December 16, 2007

Google's KNOL

As noted in Business Week on December 14, 2007, Google has invited a select group of 'authorities' to write authoritative articles, to be called knols, on a wide variety of topics. Google's driving idea is to create an on-line reference source that competes with wikipedia as a first go-to source for reference knowledge. Instead of a 'neutral' wiki, which can be endlessly modified by a community of readers, knols will have a single authorial slant, much like an entry in a standard encylcopedia.

Rumors are floating around that there will be opportunities to comment and initiate dialogues about knols. So maybe the knol will evolve as a genuinely new form of reference material that takes advantage of the best features of traditional published reference (authorial credibility) and the web, including next-to-no-cost space and storage, and community interaction.

Here is Google's post on knols, from VP of engineering Udi Manber, from December 13, 2007:

Earlier this week, we started inviting a selected group of people to try a new, free tool that we are calling "knol", which stands for a unit of knowledge. Our goal is to encourage people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it. ...

The key idea behind the knol project is to highlight authors. Books have authors' names right on the cover, news articles have bylines, scientific articles always have authors -- but somehow the web evolved without a strong standard to keep authors names highlighted. We believe that knowing who wrote what will significantly help users make better use of web content.

The worry, as many commentators have already noted, is that Google the search engine may slide into ranking knols above other reference sources such as wikipedia, essentially driving web trafiic to itself!

Shitty Art

Santiago Sierra, an artist whose works make use of pollution and toxic materials, has a new show featuring megaliths of human excrement

Elena Crippa, the curator of the London gallery displaying the works, said Sierra’s intention is to confront audiences with the horror faced by scavengers, the so-called untouchables who traditionally clean private toilets and outhouses in India.

The Chicago Sun Times comments:

Art from excrement has a long pedigree. In 1961, Italian Piero Manzoni produced 90 cans of ‘‘Artist’s (Poo),’’ each labeled as containing one ounce of ‘‘freshly preserved’’ material. In 1999, British artist Chris Ofili’s rendition of the Virgin Mary on a canvas spattered with elephant dung brought protest when it went on display with other sensational works at The Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York.

Sierra’s work is on a different scale. His 21 dark, crackled (and odorless) monuments are lined up like headstones. Although their power seems muted in the gallery’s harsh white space, visitors interviewed still seemed impressed, if not exactly shocked, by his choice of material.

Portable Brain Scanner for Fun and Profit

Do you remember the Luscher Color test? The kit came with a set of 8 color cards and a book. You asked your 'subject' to place the 8 cards in order of preference, and then read a unique psychological diagnosis out of the book. VERY SCARY.
But now we have a wonderful portable brain scanner from Hitachi. No more cards, no more book: just an instant read-out that instantly lets you know who you are. VERY SCARY.

Self Exposure Grocery Bag

Here (pictured on the right, above) is a convenience for frequent flyers: a see-through tote for your see-through vials and bottles.

And here (left, above) is another new tote trend: Trend Hunter Magazine has seen Anya Hindmarch’s fashionable "I am Not a Plastic Bag" tote bag worn over the shoulders of celebrity fashionists who are simultaneously carrying loads of plastic bags in hand. Seeing that these celebrities don't "get it," Marissa V. has created a counter-tote with the words "I am not a Smug Twat".