Musing about whether XML and RDF are too hard (viz. Mike Champion's summary of Bosworth), and whether XQuery and OWL are really the right food for better XML tools (viz: Mike Champion's summary of Florescu), my first reaction was to the latter idea, especially with respect to XQuery. I argued that declarative programming is the key, but that it is quite possible to take advantage of declarative programming outside of XQuery. Nothing new there: I've been arguing the marriage of XML and declarative techniques within "agile" languages for years. I don't think that declarative techniques inevitably require bondage-and-discipline type systems (thanks to Amyzing (1), (2) for that killer epithet).
Since then, I've also been pondering the XML-too-hard angle. I think folks such as Adam Bosworth are discounting the fact that as organizations increasingly build business plans around aggregation and integration of Web material, there comes an inevitable backlash against the slovenliness of HTML legacy and RSS Babel. Sloppy might be good enough for Google, but who makes money off that? Yeah. Just Google. Others such as Yahoo and Microsoft have started to see the importance of manageable text formats and at least modest depth of metadata. The IE7 team's "well-formed-Web-feeds-only" pledge is just one recent indicator that there will be a shake-up. No one will outlaw tag soup overnight, but as publishers find that they have to produce clean data, and some minimally clean metadata to participate in large parts of the not-Google-after-Web marketplace, they will fall in line. Of course this does not mean that there won't be people gaming the system, and all this Fancy Web agitation is probably just a big, speculative bubble that will burst soon and take with it all these centralizing forces, but at least in the medium term, I think that pressure on publishers will lead to a healthy market for good non-sloppy tools, which is the key to non-sloppy data.
Past success is no predictor of future performance, and that goes for the Web as well. I believe that folks whose scorn of "Web 2.0" takes them all the way back to what they call "Web 1.0" are buying airline stock in August of 2001.