I once asked an intelligent guy, "So, what do you think about the semantic web? Is it ever going to happen?"
He was surprised by my question and suggested that it's already here, in a way. He pointed to RSS and RDF. He also probably guessed I had been reading Shirky's thoughts on the semantic web.
If so, he was right. But I didn't understand the real value and impact of RSS and RDF at that time. I hadn't even read all of Shirky's article. Another casualty of Information Triage(pdf).
I have been using RSS on this site for a little while, and I have recently learned how RDF. etc really works. I have also been reading Paul Ford's counterarguments to Shirky. And I've done just some plain thinking.
Blam! boom! pop! bing.
It didn't hit me until I realized that I could use Wordpress out of the box to manage all of my college's news and calendar needs. Write a post, and use individual blogs as RSS feed creators. Have a feed for each class, each club, each department, each special interest.
Then use aggregators to put together news for the website, the student portal, the master calendar etc.
Is this the Semantic Web, that data can be constantly reused and flexibly applied even through something as simple as a blog posting? Is the Semantic Web a world where you no longer code a custom module for each new department's information needs? Is it a world where I can quickly solve difficult problems by using software conforming to powerful standards?
In this case, it looks like some Open Source software will do the trick. But it's far beyond Open Source. Even if there were no GPL/OSS blog software, a blog is easy. I could write or appropriate one. That's not the point. The point is the idea. The idea of feeds. The idea of different feeds for different areas. The idea of different feeds holding some of the same info. The fact that we can pull together data from all over the college and make it work.
With a blog no less.
Is this the semantic web?