From the New York Times:
Google is testing a new Web service intended to become a repository of knowledge from experts on various topics, one that could turn into a competitor to Wikipedia and other sites.
If it attracts a following, the service could accelerate Google’s transformation from a search engine into a company that helps create and publish Web content. Some critics said that shift could compromise Google’s objectivity in presenting search results.
The service, called Knol, which is short for knowledge, would allow people to create Web pages on any topic. It is designed to include features that permit readers to submit comments, rate pages and suggest changes. However, unlike Wikipedia, which allows anyone to edit an entry, only the author of a “knol,” as the pages in the service would be called, would be allowed to edit. Different authors could have competing pages on the same topic.