Foodage, Geekage, hRecipe, and Sociology

oldschoolrecipesI am going to combine my foodage and my geekage in this post. Yes I know, I haven’t posted for a LONG LONG time. There are reasons for that, but we’ll dispense with the excuses.

What I am going to do in this post:

  • describe a problem that we foodies have, and a lot of us don’t realize it
  • convince you that it is, in fact, a problem
  • give examples of other similar problems and how they have been solved
  • propose a solution to our foodie problem
  • muse on why this particular problem solution has not gotten very far, so far

Here is the problem: I have many friends who are happy to send me recipes. The method they invariably use is email. I have told them that they can become registered on the blog and post recipes directly, but it is a barrier! The capability is there but the FACT is that foodies who don’t have their own food blog are intimidated by technology and don’t want to do this. It’s taken them 15 years to get comfortable with email for God’s sake!

Why it is a problem: Now, when I receive these emails, what do I do (presuming I like the recipe and want to publish it)? I have to tweak it up to fit the format this blog likes. Why is that a problem? Because it doesn’t scale and it wastes work. My friend has already sort of formatted the recipe, usually into a list of ingredients and the instructions blurb. But I have to edit it more. Yuck! I’d rather be cooking!

A similar problem and its solution: Several years back there was a similar issue with calendar data. Joe needs to publish his day planner so his secretary can schedule appointments for him. Or, you go to the calendar from your favorite venue and you would like to add Thursday night’s jam session to your personal calendar. You’re more likely to do that if it doesn’t involve a lot of needless make work. The best solution is you just click a button and boom it’s on your calendar. What that button click actually does is exports the calendar data to a common format that is understood by your calendar application. Then your calendar application imports it and converts it to whatever internal format it uses.

A solution for recipes: OK, now I’m gonna get a little geeky here, but bear with me and keep your eyes on the prize, the prize being: the ability to grab a recipe from some recipe website and put it in your favorite personal recipe collection with a single click, just like you can for calendar events. You KNOW you’d love that! It’s worth the geekiness, believe me. There does exist such a solution, and it’s called hRecipe. The only problem is that not too many people use it. It was the same problem when these open calendar formats were introduced, but people started to use them because the benefit was very clear, and so they have gained wide acceptance.

Why has hRecipe not caught on?: I think that it’s due to mental blockage common to foodies. The same reason my friends will email me but they won’t join my blog and post directly: They lump it into the category of “geekage” and they put themselves in the category of “non geek” so they step aside when they see it coming and continue to do things the old comfortable labor-intensive (to me that equals TIME WASTING) way. It’s completely irrational. Think about it.

I don’t have 20 minutes to learn a skill that would save me weeks and weeks of time in the long run.

Balderdash! You’re not afraid to try new recipes or new kitchen gear. Why should a format be any different?

What you can do:

  • Help make people aware of hRecipe and websites that use it.
  • Use the links at the bottom of this post (e.g. Stumble Upon etc.) to spread it around.
  • Agitate on your favorite website that they use it if they don’t.
  • Comment on your experience with hRecipe.
  • Find places where you can share hRecipes.
  • Agitate for foodie desktop applications to recognize it.
  • Follow Dork Chow to keep up with anything I do to push open recipe formats.
  • Step out of your mental block and do something geeky. This is the information age. We’re all geeks, like it or not!

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