I have been watching the Semantic Web efforts with guarded interest for the last few years. I really like the idea. However, I have always thought it was probably a pipe dream. The Semantic Web is a chicken and egg problem, there must be a lot of data published to attract the general developer population but it needs to attract the general developer population to get a lot of data published.

RDF, SPARQL and the other Semantic Web technologies are pretty uniformly wicked cool. Unfortunately, they are also rather unlike the technologies with which most developers are familiar. I has never obvious to me how we, as an industry, could get to the Semantic Web from here. But today I became aware of GRDDL1, which is the path to the Semantic Web.

As I understand it, GRDDL amounts to this: publish your data in what ever format you like but include a link to an XSLT transform that will convert your published format into an RDF document. So you can continue to publish your microformatted HTML document and be part the Semantic Web just by adding a link element.

My initial reaction to GRDDL is an exquisite combination of “man, there are some really smart people in the world” and “duh, why did I not see that”. That set of feelings is usually a strong indication of a good idea.