On the other hand.
Google is big, they are making tons of money and crushing new companies faster than any other company out there. So let's bitch about it
Wikipedia is by far the most prominent result page on Google search engine. Google is sending traffic to Wikipedia in millions and nobody is making money in the process. Knol is a hedge against Wikipedia. Who knows what will happen to Wikipedia in 5 or 10 years? What if Yahoo starts offering voluntary top level Wikipedia link on every search result page. What if. Strange things have happened in the past. Oracle and IBM are biggest Linux supporters out there. Who thought that will happen one day. So Google has to keep Wikipedia on the content leash, if not link leash.
Google gives 75% to 80% of ad revenue to Adsense partners. That's a big leak when compared with 100% revenue they make on their own properties like search and gmail. If they can aggregate valuable content on their own property then they can keep lot of high margin revenue. Who knows better than Google what kind of content goes for higher bid on AdWords.
If you think, between Knol and YouTube, Google is not a content company then you probably think we are not in recession either. Google became content company when on some blogs Google Adsense ad units started exceeding actual content.
So get used to the idea of creating, managing, and publishing content without ever leaving Google properties.
One good thing out of Knol is that Google search quality will dramatically improve. Internally in Google, this project is owned by search quality team. It's a wonderful way to get high quality, trusted content and in a verified structure (both explicit and implicit authority). They will use meta data tied with this content to address duplicate content issue, fighting spam etc.
Google is smart about perception management and appropriate to their target audience, they kept logo subdued and are avoiding Google name. Google brand name is not too directly associated with Knol. Plan is to sneak in geek friendly interface which can grow over time into a powerful reference knowledge repository.
Interestingly current version is not linked with main search engine. Almost as a joke they have this text: