Found an old PC forum link on Jeremy Allaire's Radio
Esther has a theory that what will create the semantic web are large-scale data-centric applications driven by large corporations and government, forcing the creation of standards and platforms.
Counterexamples: HTML, HTTP, trackback, RSS, ...
I think the conclusion is true but the argument wrong. The only really important thing to know is that it all starts with data. Somebody will make something available in a useful format. People will write tools to access that. Other people will make their data 'tool compatible'.
I think it is a good question if RDF will make it at all. If it does it will likely make it either as 'Open Schema' - a data description standard tailored to be made collaboratively instead of by some central publishing house - or 'Poor mans Prolog' - a net ready substrate for rule engines to run on.
The Open Schema approach could survive grassroots style OR corporate style. The rule engine substrate is unlikely without some heavy lifters (making it unlikely alltogether).
RDF as 'data ready hyperlinks' might be viable.