Thanks to the superhuman efforts of my collaborator Eddie, ED survived a nasty scare today..
In earlier writing, I suggested that some of the solution to this problem might be a focus first on the provision of data in a standardized, presentation agnostic form (e.g. RDF) or/and via API access. Connotea provides RDF via a nice RESTful API, so I couldn't really ask for more... but, there really is more to share than just the data. User-scripts can and do benefit from the presentation information on the websites that they process. So I wonder to myself, "wouldn't be cool if the presentation elements of web pages could be separated from the data they display so that mash monkeys could use both as they see fit?" Best of both worlds - sharable, mergable, mashable data chunks and presentation chunks!
Of course ;) those bright folks at places like MIT have already been working on this sort of thing for years... So far, they've come up with Fresnel, a standardized display vocabulary for RDF and have used it inside several semantic web browsers. When I first started thinking about this, I naively thought we were going to see general purpose semantic web browsers that could consume and somehow beautifully display pure RDF.. This is of course totally impossible - there is simply way, way, way more than one way to present a piece of data. Semantic Web Browsers won't do all the work - we'll still need good designers. What we need to do, I think, is work out the kinks of binding RDF to flexible, standardized presentation elements like those in Fresnel. Only with the two separate, symbiotic standards in place, one for the data and one for the presentaiton of that data, will it be possible to generate a successful, general purpose browser for the semantic web.
* p.s. it bums me out a little that I've put so much work into a project that, if successful, will end up benefiting a for-profit company that I don't work for and that now collaborates closely with a company that wants to "provide the Internet economy with greater control, precision, and profitability of content monetization"...gross. If only CiteULike had produced an RDF-serving API when I was first looking at these things...