Death Knol or death knell?

Less than a week after Google rolled out Knol, its “Wikipedia killer”, the blogosphere has decided to whip itself into a frenzy. The major cause of the consternation – Google seems to be ranking Knol pages, which are supposed to be filled with content from a never-ending and every-increasing number of “experts”, a bit higher than the average SEO junkie might suspect.

Sounds like competition to me.

Is Google bad or is Google good? I don’t think the “experts” really know for sure, but I do see a pattern emerging. When blogs became popular, those working behind the scenes figured out that comments and trackbacks were a good way to generate search engine attention – and they latched onto the best ranked blogs. When the search engines figured this out, they appealed to the best of the best to add the “nofollow” tag to their discussion threads to weed out the scum. The big blogs agreed, I believe out of fear that Google would see discussions without the tag and bump down the renegades accordingly. All was well, as the favored few remained high on the first page list.

Unfortunately, content creators are now coming under increasing stress. The sole business motive, advertising, is showing signs of weakness. Purveyors of online expertise are crying for folks to click on their ads – they ask “why give the money to Google?”. Meanwhile, they beg at Google’s feet for traffic – it’s the proverbial biting of the hand that feeds you.

What’s even more odd about all this, and what would clue the average internet surfer into how badly the tech blogosphere needs a twenty-ton dose of Ritalin, is that the crowd waited until the day after they pounced on Cuil, a potential Google search competitor, before releasing their joint statement on the evil Knol. Yes, after giving a well-publicized Google search competitor a general thumbs neutral/negative (not entirely unearned, since Cuil had major technical problems on the day of its launch) the virtual chatterbox moves on to complain about the fact that Google might be infringing on their territory by juicing its own search results with competitive content.

Instead of recognizing the the signs of an impending threat and rallying behind the future generation, content creators are playing cards for the small pot instead of the final table. To be fair, some have a clue – seek alternatives and take action instead of pissing in the wind. Still, discussion revolves around quick fixes.

Budding surgeons don’t pass their boards by suggesting band-aids for severed femoral arteries, and it seems much of the tech blogosphere forgot their hemostats on this trip to the operating room.

A Cuil Roundup (and countdown to acquisition starts today)

Cuil, the latest “Google killer”…

Cuil is getting a lot of coverage – it’s on the front page of Drudge too…

cuil-headlines-on-drudge-report

It makes me think that the long standing love affair with the Google brand is fading (or has already faded). That, or folks need something to write about on a Monday morning and Cuil has a good PR team.

In the long run, I suspect the mainsteam is going to catch the buzz and type “COOL” dot com into their browsers, much to a domain squatter’s pleasure. But I don’t think that is going to matter – Cuil launched today, but that doesn’t mean it was created yesterday, nor were it’s founders or funders born yesterday either. The company was founded in ’05, and has garnered roughly $33 million over two rounds of funding (data here). Add the recent acquisition of Powerset (who itself had just launched) by Microsoft, and one could surmise Cuil won’t be independent very long.

With Google pushing into the content space with Knol, I’d be placing my bet on the flip-side – a traditional content producer (think major media) pushing back.

UPDATE: Fair is fair…ReadWriteWeb chimes in – Cuil is good, but not great.

UPDATE 2: Still more, from Forbes (including how Cuil got started).

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