What Do You Knol?


No, that is not a typographical error in the article title. A knol is defined by Google as “a unit of knowledge”. At least, that’s the subtitle of their newest released product, Knol.

Knol appears to be a Wikipedia clone, but with some distinct differences. The biggest difference is that the author of an article becomes the owner and is tasked with determining whether or not subsequent edits will be included, all or in part, in the entry. Of course, the system is a bit more complex than that, allowing for various types of collaboration.

Additionally, it appears as though there are some members who are flagged with a cute, little, green, graphical, “Verified” tag. I would think that this lends a little more weight to the author’s knols as opposed to random folks who write about buttermilk pancakes.

Not that buttermilk pancakes aren’t delicious. Quite the contrary. My point is that there is a “gold rush” on knols, so if you’ve got lots of spare units of knowledge floating around between your ears, you might want to pop over and add them to the new Wikipedia killer… erm… Google project. There are many topics related to medicine, and it looks like many of the verified authors are from medical institutions or universities that specialize in medicine.

In Other News

You’ll remember that I asked if Twitter was doomed a few days ago. In an interesting twist, Twitter users ((Twitterers?)) began losing random amounts of followers at some point yesterday. I did not hear about it until earlier today when I received a tweet from a friend about losing all of his followers.

While I received the SMS on my cell phone, when I was at a computer a while later, I checked my following/followers list, and he was no longer listed. But I still received the updates. Odd. My guess is that it was not a bug, but instead an attempt at culling the cruft from the users of Twitter ((How dare they consider any users cruft!)).

I added my friend again, and all appears to be working for now. I suggested to a co-worker and fellow Twitterererer that they might be trying to do away with spammers and fake users. Little did I know about the Anti-Spam Bot.  According the to the aforelinked article, some users were hit with a follower limit based upon ratios. That doesn’t explain why someone with all of 4 followers would lose them all, but who am I to question programming logic.

Whatever happens, there was much wailing, gnashing of teeth, and slamming of keys whilst the users sent tweets about their outrage. More proof that Twitter could get away with many things and still not lose users. Small tweaks followed by long periods of stability would allay the masses.

I only have about 50 or so followers, so I lost a couple and managed to figure out who they were, but what about those who have thousands of followers? Will they even bother trying to figure out who was lost? Could they even know?

We do take for granted that web applications store our data and information for us. We hope that the data will never be lost, but perhaps it’s time to use the Twitter API to make a backup of our follower lists. Just in case. What do you think?

Update on the Twitter Followers Bug

Over on the Twitter Blog, Biz has issued an update about the lost followers bug that struck Twitters users over the past couple of days.

> Update: This has been fixed but the actual numbers and profile pictures might not look right until tomorrow afternoon due to caching.

> Recently, some people began noticing a decline in their following and follower numbers. We investigated and determined this was caused by an error during a database upgrade. We’ll be restoring followers throughout the day to those who were affected and keeping the status blog and Get Satisfaction forum updated with specifics.

> Please note that this is unrelated to our ongoing spam initiative as some folks were wondering. Twitter fights spam by putting rules in place to inhibit certain activities. We don’t automatically delete accounts en masse.

Whew! What a relief.