Google takes on Wikipedia. Usually, I'd just be happy for the couple of minor improvements in the technical design over Wikipedia, but for reasons I am not yet completely able to articulate, I am skeptical. I think it has to do with Knol apparently being rigged in the Google results, but maybe this tool will be a supplement to Wikipedia? Whatever happens, it will certainly take many years to reach the level of detail that Wikipedia has.
Btw, one of the internet tricks I use most is to google [topic] + wikipedia. You go straight to the top-ranking Wikipedia article (almost universally the English-language one) and you can use that as the beginning of a research process. It's a nice way of just quickly touching base with the most basic facts about something, and can also be used to find specific information to supplement my vaguer understanding about what I'm researching. Like today, for purposes of a bad joke coming to this space soon, I wanted to double check whether the birth of Derrida did indeed coincide with the birth of New Criticism. It did, sorta.
UPDATE: Ezter Hargittai from Crooked Timber raises some excellent issues here.
Also, I think I have worded my initial skepticism more thoroughly: Google should no longer be just a private company. It has now become such an integral part of the infrastructure of the entire world that it should either act entirely like infrastructure and not as a corporation with a separate agenda from the people it serves or it should be supernationalised, become a UN body. If Google starts rigging the results according to their own agenda, they are no longer doing what they should be doing to fulfill their part of the Google - Public contract.