Clay Shirky on the Semantic Web. I always thought, not having looked at it too closely, that the essence of the Semantic Web was an extensive new mechanism for adding meta data, "meaning" to content, thereby allowing better searching and processing.
I'm a skeptic about meta tagging, and certainly not the only one. There are those that swear by it, that say information has no meaning unless it is put into context, which is hard to disagree with it. My skepticism is pointed more towards collaboration, knowledge management, and similar systems which avoid free floating text and insist that everything be categorized, tagged, and fully specified. While this sounds like a good idea, in practice it doesn't work.
But... I learn from Clay's piece that meta tagging is the less ambitious part of the semantic web. The more ambitious part is an elaborate model for reasoning (in the AI sense of the word) about informaiton on the web, or as Clay says, "Artificial Intelligence Reborn"...
Anyway, you've got to read the article to get the whole delicious flavor of it. I leave you with a few quotes which deserve to be added to the list of ageless put downs:
"This example sets the pattern for descriptions of the Semantic Web. First, take some well-known problem. Next, misconstrue it so that the hard part is made to seem trivial and the trivial part hard. Finally, congratulate yourself for solving the trivial part."
"You may want to read that second paragraph again, to savor its delicious mix of minutia and cluelessness."
'nuf said. Well done!