Here's my take on this. Part of the material that has been written on
the Semantic Web was authored by AI believers looking to sell it to
unsuspecting laypeople. They made ludicrous claims that basically imply
that a few years from now, the complex, subtle, nuanced, and very human
processes that go on in our heads will have been turned into neat
first-order logic statements in a lossless way.
I think Clay is right to deflate those kinds of grand visions. But the
Semantic Web moniker actually encompasses a constellation of visions
and initiatives, many of which are much less ambitious and more
workable than those reflected by the excerpts Clay chooses to defeat.
Many of them won't yield to the particular lines of argument that he
brings out in his piece. In short, I don't think there's enough paint
to cover Clay's target in its entirety.
no matter how sincere the intent
that some markup language is meant to be consumed and produced only by
machines, it is always the case that some human eventually ends up
having to deal with that markup.
Clark discusses cultural mismatches between hackerdom and
academia towards the end. I agree with his observation that each
culture would be better off if it borrowed some of the ways of the
other. Getting members of both cultures together in one conference is a
step forward; if academics could publish more on the Web, especially
stuff that is not fully baked, it would help a lot as well.