So when I first caught wind of Foodista, I checked it out, dismissed it, and moved on. Unfortunately, I did not have a blog at the time, so I could not share my feelings! Bummer! As luck would have it, their continued growth (quantcast), combined with some recent press (lifehacker / techcrunch), has sparked me to revisit the site.
Barnaby Dorfman, a co-founder formerly of Amazon/IMDB , is quoted as saying: "We are taking a structured-data approach to cooking." In my other life, I sit squarely in the technology sector, so a statement like that excites me. Unfortunately, I am left scratching my head.
This is not a techie blog, so I’ll spare you the details – this is all about the collection and organization of information. Doing it better has inherent advantages. In fact, taking unstructured data and giving it structure is what I do for a living.
Unfortunately, this thing is primed for failure. They are trying to do too many things. Collaborative editing works great for encyclopedias or data sets where facts are essentially facts. That fails when you try and apply it to something as subjective as "the perfect recipe." Anyone who loves to cook knows that recipes are guides – not laws. If I say Coquilles St.-Jacque should have two tables spoons of wine and someone else says it should have three tablespoons … who is right? This type of subjectivity is ripe for edit wars.
Structured data can be a great thing; but, if there is no true value in the data, why do it? I fail to see how this site can generate a significant, or even sufficient, revenue stream. There are plenty of great recipe sites on the web, so I wait apprehensively to see how this site fares. It sounds great, but I just don’t have the faith.