Google as encyclopedia?

On the BBC this morning: Google debuts knowledge project:

Google has kicked off a project to create an authoritative store of information about any and every topic.

The search giant has already started inviting people to write about the subject on which they are known to be an expert.

The system will centre around authored articles created with a tool Google has dubbed "knol" – the word denotes a unit of knowledge – that will make webpages with a distinctive livery to identify them as authoritative.

The knol pages will get search rankings to reflect their usefulness. Knols will also come with tools that readers can use to rate the information, add comments, suggest edits or additional content.

Nicholas Carr said the knol project was … an attempt by Google to knock ad-free Wikipedia entries on similar subjects down the rankings.

So much could be said about this. Is it a peer review system for the web? How are 'experts' discovered and chosen? What factors would influence whether an 'expert' agrees to participate? Would practices of academic inclusion and exclusion apply? Will it use semantic web technologies or methodologies? Will commercial factors affect the users' trust in search results? How will it affect traditional content providers like encyclopaedias, and new content sources like Wikipedia? Are they duplicating existing knowledge systems just to provide a new revenue stream?

Browse with maps on Flickr

Flickr have introduce a new 'places' feature, which makes geo-tagged photos easier to find by navigating through a map, browsing or searching. There's an end-user focussed screencast explaining how it works. There are more technical links under the 'Are you nerdy?' heading.

Features like this and Google maps seem to be creating a much more 'map savvy' generation of online users – I think this could be really beneficial because they're educating our users about mapping technologies and interfaces as well as making it possible for ordinary people to create geo-referenced content.

Flickr have also introduced stats for Pro accounts, which will make evaluating the use of our content a lot easier.

Could Facebook bring new audiences to your sites?

Dan Pett has written an interesting overview of Facebook and the Heritage sector on the PAS blog, and says:

We’re now starting to see Facebook appearing more regularly in our Google Analytics referrer pages, and people seem to be sticking around for around 7 pages per visit. It’s a new door to people entering our site, and maybe one that could be fruitful;