A toast to Semantic Web

Not really. Semantic Web is one of those things that have a grain of a great idea but fail miserably in execution. Its failings arise from asking its constituency - content authors and publishers - to do something unnatural with little incentive or help by way of tools that fit into existing workflows.

A good idea is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a successful platform. You need to line up the incentives for your target audience; make it worth their while. And as importantly, you need to provide tools, patterns etc. to get your platform into people's natural development processes and habits.

Semantic Web has therefore been supplanted by lesser powerful but good enough technologies, namely your friendly neighborhood search engines. They do a reasonably good job locating names, places, reviews, etc. Of courses there's room for improvement, but the latent demand isn't nearly enough to warrant unnatural actions such as Semantic Web requires. This is notwithstanding tireless advocates.

Moral of the story? Any platform/framework/pattern that:

  1. requires you to do something unnatural,
  2. doesn’t fit into your workflow / tools,
  3. provides you little incentive to change status quo
is toast. Even if it is borne out of a great idea.