I've been going round and round in my head about whether Google's new “knol” project is brilliant or utterly daft since I first heard about it. (Background here and here and here.) I think I've settled on “not brilliant, but not entirely daft either.”
The key is something that Google isn't sharing—exactly how much the authors of knols can expect to make from the ads on their pages. So, not knowing that makes it hard to evaluate whether Google is going to attract decent writers or not. But the ads really wouldn't have to pay all that well to be competitive—this sort of writing is not lucrative anywhere, and yet somehow people are still lining up to be writers. Plus, writing knols has the added benefit of getting your name out there and allowing you to build a reputation. So yeah, if I was a couple of years younger and still trying to get by as a full-time freelancer I'd be awfully tempted to write a few of these and see if they wound up paying roughly as well as the work I've been doing. Heck, I'm half-tempted to throw up a few of them now (well, sometime in the spring when I have free time again), just to see what happens.