Can Anything Stop Google From Dominating Information?

July 30 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future
Category: The Web   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

The internet community is abuzz with the latest Google gossip. No, not the prediction that they’ll make their Gmail storage space unlimited for their upcoming anniversary. And no, not Cuil, the latest search engine designed by former Google employees which professes to kill Google (so far, all they’ve managed to do is crash their server over and over). The real news is the release of Google Knol, a social media site that will possibly siphon large amounts of traffic away from information powerhouse Wikipedia.

Knol is, much like Wikipedia, a place on the Internet to share information for free in article form. The key difference is that whereas Wikipedia has articles written and edited by anyone who visits the site, Knol has articles written by industry professionals. In the words of Cedric Dupont on the Google Blog, “Knols are authoritative articles about specific topics, written by people who know about those subjects.” In other words, an article about hearts is written by a cardiologist, not the mass public. Although still in Beta testing, Knol has already published hundreds of articles from astronomers, doctors, chefs, professors, and even linguists. Google is even trying to coin the word knol into Internet vocabulary, defining it as a “unit of knowledge”.

Another interesting feature of Knol is that authors are allowed, and indeed encouraged, to claim their writing as their own legal property. Furthermore, this means these authors can choose to receive revenue from their content by placing Google ads on the articles’ landing page. Google writes “If an author chooses to include ads, Google will provide the author with a revenue share from the proceeds of those ad placements.” An interesting incentive for writers, but so far most of the articles have no ads. Possibly in keeping with the freedom of Wikipedia, most authors might not want their work tainted by gross auto-generated ads.

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Wikipedia Converts to Ubuntu — is Change Coming?

October 10 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future
Category: Technology   Year: 2008   Rating: 5 Hot

The Wikimedia Foundation, home of Wikipedia, the 8th ranked site on the internet, is switching its servers (all 400 of them) over to an Ubuntu operating system. “Wikimedia’s move to Ubuntu is part of an effort to simplify administration of the organization’s 400 servers, which previously ran a mix of various versions of Red Hat and Fedora.” The volunteers and staff (consisting of five people) cite ease of use and simplicity of server migration making everything “a million times easier.”

So what is the appeal of Ubuntu?

For starters, it’s free. Anyone staring at a Mac or Windows Operating System at your local tech-mart knows that to get a good operating system you may have to shell out as much as $200.

Secondly, Ubuntu is open-source. Although many are still confused or wary of open-source software, we’re seeing an explosion of it in the last few years. Firefox, a popular open-source web browser, has gone from 3% of the global market in 2005 to almost 20% today with over 500 million downloads. There’s just something about open-source software that appeals to many people — the idea that you’re using something from a community and not a corporation.

So what does this mean in the long run? Although Ubuntu may take a while to get used to, we will see it gracing the desktops of users more and more in the next five years. If it really takes off, Microsoft may find itself a company that builds applications instead of operating systems. Even Apple is expecting some heated competition for its iPhone operating system with the release of the Linux-based Google Android mobile phone software.

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