this is aaronland

Is that an address in your pants?

The Taste of Doom

I woke up this morning to discover that the Microformat people have turned their attention to recipes.

Despite my overall reservations about Microformats, I think this a good thing. Anything that makes it is easier to get stuff out of the web is okay by me. But I also tend to view stuff like Microformats and the newly minted HTML5 as, basically, an effort to trick people into turning the web (read : HTML) in to DocBook.

That is not necessarily a bad thing. I happen to love DocBook but I also know, even in its simplest forms, it can be a chore to write. Microformats, doubly so because (at least until HTML5 is deployed and tries to pretend everything in the world is a blog post) they rely on nested tags with semantic attributes rather than self-identifying element names.

Even then, and having actually written (read : tried to use) the spec for Eatdrinkfeelgood 1.0, well-defined and considered elements names are not a panacea. It's just too much of a pain in the ass to want to write anything down. This is not a universal rule but I will stake the claim that it is true for recipes.

The response I usually get from any kind of markup enthusiast — and let's not discriminate, this is equally true of Microformat weenies as it is of RDF nerds or Atom wonks — is that a machine will write it for you. Which is, I think, the part where people reach the fork in the road. It's not that anyone is (more) right or wrong, it's just that they diagree on fundamentals. To an outsider, it looks like Google believes everything will happen online and the Microformats crowd expects that HTML will become (read : already is) the Lingua Franca of ... everything.

I don't. Or, rather, I'd prefer something a little more flexible.

Anyway, since the article about the design of Eatdrinkfeelgood 1.0 was linked to and since so much of my thinking has evolved since then I sort of feel the need to make it clear that : Everything I said is still true. Except for the parts that have changed.

To whit :

At which point, the discussion starts to move further and further away from actual recipes but where everything that comes after it is a direct result of trying to figure out what to do about Eatdrinkfeelgood.

In March, of this year, I did a presentation called The Scribblenet where I used addresses, wine listings and recipes to illustrate the problem of walking the line between making it easy enough for people to bother putting data in to a system and still useful enough to make it worth the trouble of getting it out. By which I mean, the first two are only as manageable as the third isn't.


Oh, and there is the small part where I forgot to renew the registration for so all the stuff that used to live there, uh, doesn't. (Always online all the time, right?) I now own but I still need actually get the DNS working properly. I feel reasonably confident that I can do that before anyone figures out the larger problem of how to actually markup a recipe.

I briefly considered just adding that list to the Microformats wiki itself, but that seemed like bad-form at best and spamming at worst.