The Semantic Web
Joshua Allen (via Burningbird via Stephen Dulaney) has an illuminating, if a little complicated, post on the Semantic Web and the main languages that currently provide support for it: English, RDF, and XML. A few quotes:
The Semantic Web is about people, and specifically about making people's voices clearly audible and indelible
I'd rather say findable than audible. If every voice were audible we'd be stuck with white noise.
The key point here is that the web, and especially the semantic web is about capturing and communicating human knowledge. For people who have trouble understanding that "knowledge" is a truth-neutral word, it is fine to say that the semantic web is about capturing and communicating human voices. [...]
You don't see such refreshing descriptions in academic material about the semantic web.
I would argue that people like Dave Winer (who overtly disparages certain semantic web technologies while producing code that gives people voice) have done more to advance the semantic web (the web of renmin voice) than many of the semantic web advocates. [...]
RDF is simply a syntax for exchanging knowledge representations, and not even a particularly ambitious or cutting-edge syntax. [...]
Most of the examples that qualify as "semantic web" today rely on plain old English recognition, and the rest rely on extracting predefined semantics from markup, meta tags, and so on.
What I get from this overall is that the semantic web is here already. It's in a process of bootstrapping, progressing towards more structured forms of communication. Perhaps in a couple generations we'll all speak in an RDF dialect. (Don't laugh just yet. What I mean by that is that we'll all be making more precise, less ambiguous, statements, in such a way as to be found and heard by the people who care about the things we're talking about.)