The World Wide Web Consortium and particularly its Semantic Web efforts do great, valuable work. I have one massive complaint, particularly about the latter: they ignore the Web at their peril. Yes, it’s true, as far as I can tell (but mind that I’m one or two steps removed from actually working on the problems), that the W3C and Semantic Web activities do not appreciate the importance of nor dedicate appropriate resources to the Web. Not just the theoretical Web of URIs, but the Web that billions of people use and see.
I’m reminded of this by Ian Davis’ post Is the Semantic Web Destined to be a Shadow?:
My belief is that trust must be considered far earlier and that it largely comes from usage and the wisdom of the crowds, not from technology. Trust is a social problem and the best solution is one that involves people making informed judgements on the metadata they encounter. To make an effective evaluation they need to have the ability to view and explore metadata with as few barriers as possible. In practice this means that the web of data needs to be as accessible and visible as the web of documents is today and it needs to interweave transparently. A separate, dry, web of data is unlikely to attract meaningful attention, whereas one that is a full part of the visible and interactive web that the majority of the population enjoys is far more likely to undergo scrutiny and analysis. This means that HTML and RDF need to be much more connected than many people expect. In fact I think that the two should never be separate and it’s not enough that you can publish RDF documents, you need to publish visible, browseable and engaging RDF that is meaningful to people. Tabular views are a weak substitute for a rich, readable description.