The Impending End of Knol

In the post Impact of Demise of GeoCities on Online Software Development References, I discussed the potential loss of intellectual assets with the shuttering of GeoCities. More intellectual assets may be lost with the impending shuttering of Google’s Knol. Although a transition path has been made available for moving Knol assets to Annotum, it is unlikely that all Knol contributors will make the effort to do so. In this post, I look at how Knol’s demise impacts Java developers.

@SuppressWarnings Annotation in Java

Alex Miller‘s Knol entry @SuppressWarnings Annotation in Java provides a nice overview of the @SuppressWarnings annotation as well as valid values for that annotation in different environments such as with HotSpot javac and Eclipse.

What Java 7 brings in for developers?

The entry What Java 7 brings in for developers? is evidence that people are still writing Knol entries despite its freeze a month from now (1 May 2012).

It’s Not So Much About Java on Knol

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of Java-related articles on Knol that represent content not available elsewhere. The bigger issue is other sites with more Java content. The demise of GeoCities and Knol remind us that it’s always possible for Java-heavy content sites to eventually succumb.

Other Options

It’s probably true that in many cases the content on Knol is available elsewhere, albeit perhaps in different forms and not organized the same way. However, there is still the possibility that some original content will be lost and it’s even more likely that creative packaging of content will be lost. The Internet Archive Wayback Machine will also likely have cached values of many of the Knol entries.

If you regularly reference any Knol entries, you may want to make a local copy of them. I like to save my favorite web references as local PDFs using one of the many browser plug-ins for writing PDFs (Chrome has this capability built in). On the Web, there’s never any guarantee that a link here today will still be here there tomorrow. Because this is especially true on small and little-known sites,I tend to save any articles or posts I highly value on these lesser known sites to PDF.


Knol never reached the size in terms of content of GeoCities, but it is newer, so the information that is lost may be more timely and relevant than the majority of that lost with GeoCities’ demise. That being stated, there is useful content on Knol that may be lost forever. The imminent demise of Know, coupled with GeoCities’ demise, remind us of the fragility of “permanent” on the Web.

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