Mud Time creates some bleak mindspaces, and Stephen Downes’ posting of yesterday afternoon Why the Semantic Web Will Fail can perhaps be read in this light. A few trenchant bits:
The Semantic Web will never work because it depends on businesses working together, on them cooperating.
We are talking about the most conservative bunch of people in the world, people who believe in greed and cut-throat business ethics. People who would steal one another’s property if it weren’t nailed down. People like, well, Conrad Black and Rupert Murdoch.
And they’re all going to play nice and create one seamless Semantic Web that will work between companies – competing entities choreographic their responses so they can work together to grant you a seamless experience?
Not a chance.
…The future is not in the Semantic Web (or in Java, or in enterprise computing – all for the same reason). Careers based on that premise will founder. Because the people saying all the semantic-webbish things – speak the same language, standardize your work, orchestrate the services – are the people who will shut down the pipes, change the standards, and look out for their own interests (at the expense of yours).
…The future of the web will be based on personal computing.
Not because everybody in the world is some sort of Ayn-Rand-close [?clone?] backstabbing money-grubbing leech.
But because there’s just enough of them – and they’re the one’s who tend to rise in business. And when they say “give me your data” (or “let me manage your money” or “base your career on my advice”) it’s merely a prelude to their attempting to take you to the cleaners.
If my online world depends on them – and in the Semantic Web, it would – then my online world will fail. Will be a house of cards that will eventually collapse.
I extract these pieces not as a substitute for Stephen’s whole argument, but to challenge you to read and consider the whole thing, with the wish that you’ll come up with something hopeful as an anodyne. But I’m afraid he’s right –and I’d been blithely thinking that it was government meddling that would end the Idyll, but no, it’s those Adamic Market Forces that are the real danger, underlain by their besetting sins of greed and venality, in the service of Interests. It’s a Guy Thing.