Page A1, Column 1 on a Sunday: the New York Times introduces the world to Web 3.0. It's "a layer of meaning on top of the existing Web" and "the foundation for systems that can reason in a human fashion."

The idea of the Semantic Web has been around since 1999. Why is the Times treating it as new? For the same reason that the Times put Burning Man afterparties on the Styles section cover: It sells papers.

But take a closer look — there's no quote from Google VP/spokesperson Marissa Mayer. In fact, there's no quote from anyone at Google. You can bet writer John Markoff gave them the chance. Other than nods to PageRank and Google Maps, the company isn't even mentioned.

(One other company gets their message through, though. The creator of would-be A.I. system Cyc tells Markoff his system should be able to answer, say, "Which American city would be most vulnerable to an anthrax attack during summer?" Sounds like a researcher going after more military money.)

In short, the Times wants to announce a trend just in case that trend actually materializes in the next few months. But don't bet on it — Google smelled a dud and didn't touch this story, and neither should anyone looking for the real next big thing.

Entrepreneurs See a Web Guided by Common Sense [NY Times]