Abstract: This 3,000-word essay proposes and describes an economy based on exchanges of intelligently structured data; argues that the path to that economy will not be imposed from above but will emerge like a crystal lattice in a super-saturated solution; explains why a Semantic Content Management System for the publishing industry could be the profitable catalyst for this development; discusses the outline of such a system.
Clay Shirky blew up the grand vision of The Semantic Web in 2003, which is probably why serious people aren't particularly alert to the possibility of a semantic revolution building in response to current conditions. That's probably because the general perspective on semantic architecture is that it must be grandiose and top-down. I believe the route to our semantic future comes from the opposite direction, and I've tried to make that case by imagining and describing a publishing system that would create information structures that could spread because the publishing system would make those structures profitable.
But the widespread inability to imagine the benefits of such tools points to a more fundamental lack of understanding, and it occurred to me recently that maybe it's time to address it.
It's the Semantic Economy, Stupid.