Blackmailed to Markup

The web works because it let’s you reach other people.  That contact is the motive force behind the entire net.  All the other drivers are complements, competitors, and parasites.

Which brings me to the semantic web.  The semantic web at best off by one, and at worse it’s entirely wandering off in the wrong direction.   Where web pages are crafted by people to titillate other people – so it’s no wonder they show up – the semantic web exists to empower machines to excite other machines.  It doesn’t make sense, so people don’t show up.  Well at least not much.

According to the study reported here 1% of all the web has a few crumbs of semantic markup.  In an industry where we expect ideas to start bonfires the best we can say for this idea is that it endures.

But on the other hand.

Maybe this is going to change.  And yeah, I’ve and others have said that before.  But the web isn’t the same as it once was.  We are long past the explosive phase transitioning growth and deep into the consolidation.   It’s less about people now, and more about the machines (though we call it big-data now).  There’s an entire industry (aka SEO), and has been for a while, that labors to make the web pages attractive to the machines rather than people.

So it is with interest that I read that report.  Which suggests that Google is starting to bless pages with semantic mark-up with better placement in search results.  That would be a classic standardization move on Google’s part.  If you have market power you can create incentives (force) suppliers to conform to standards in service of your quality/cost metrics.

I’ve predicted this for a while, and mostly I’ve been wrong – since it keeps not happening.  Maybe I’ll finally be right.

Curiously I’d not noticed before a perversity in my presumption that the only way that the semantic web can succeed is if the big machines force the issue.   And that’s that the open world model so beloved by semantic web fans (me included) is totally at odds with this driver.


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