Google is looking to move from the web search into the knowledge sharing area. According to the Official Google Blog they are inviting "people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it": Encouraging people to contribute knowledge.
Google has decreed that a unit of knowledge should be called a "knol." Google envisions that each "knol" will have its own webpage and that webpage will be the first thing someone who searches for this topic for the first time will want to read. This is the example they posted: Insomnia (double click to magnify).
Maybe I am missing something, but isn't this already covered by Wikipedia? The wikipedia entry for most topic comes up first in the Google search results. Try a Google search for "knowledge management". The wikipedia entry comes up first.
Google is not claiming editorial control or ownership of the content. Of course they are picking the first authors of each "knol" so they are controlling the process.