Each passing day of trying to read on the web becomes a sad game of dodging pay walls, peeling off pop up pleas for subscriptions, and scraping away the barnacle-like encrustation of more and more ads. Witness the word of the year as coined and preached by Cory Doctorow … the wave of Enshittification.

As someone who is of later in life gotten to rather enjoy cooking, my learning and ideas have benefitted from finding recipes online. Lately I find them to be more and more enshittified. Here I am trying to just find the damned recipe. I just want to make some Cheesy Garlic biscuits. Where is the ______ing recipe?

Yes, ignore the fact I scrolled past the Jump to Recipe button, the point is the rest of this page is covered with poop. Why does this have to be what the web experience looks/smells like (insert the old joke ending in “good thing I did not step in it”).

To be honest, when you read or listen to the This is Enshittification message from Cory Doctorow, there is more to the arc- I am describing the symptom of the latter stage:

But in case you want to use enshittification in a more precise, technical way, let’s examine how enshittification works.

It’s a three stage process: First, platforms are good to their users; then they abuse their users to make things better for their business customers; finally, they abuse those business customers to claw back all the value for themselves. Then, they die.

https://pluralistic.net/2024/01/30/go-nuts-meine-kerle/#ich-bin-ein-bratapfel

What is the recipe for a recipe?

Is that a hard question? In my simple mind it’s a list of stuff you need aka ingredients and stuff to do, aka instructions. It’s enough to fit in an index card, like my Mom’s kugel recipe.

Mom's Kugel Recipe
Mom’s Kugel Recipe flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

I do keep a number of old school printed ones in a folder. They are bent, smudged, often annotated with extra steps. Sometimes one given to me might have a note about “Aunt Shirley always added extra butter”.

But you do not have to scrape past endless stories, amazon-sponsored appliance links, subscription panes to find out where to start. Not all web recipes are as bad as I make them out to be– my tried and true Pillsbury Apple Pie one is pretty direct. So is one I use for cornbread.

However, in the past year or so, the ones that pop to the top of Google have this long flowing format of endless blather and unwanted cruft before one gets to the ads. Because they are nothing but a diversion to shove ads in your click space.

I profoundly loathe this plastering over of the structure of the web with tacky posters and cheesy neon lit billboards there only to distract. And I can barely imagine what this crap puts into the path of anyone using assistive tools to read the web.

A Small Glint of Disenshittification

After laying out the issue and dissecting the why’s behind it, Doctorow gets to the “What can be done” part

But hear me out! We’ve identified the disease. We’ve traced its natural history. We’ve identified its underlying mechanism. Now we can get to work on a cure.

https://pluralistic.net/2024/01/30/go-nuts-meine-kerle/#ich-bin-ein-bratapfel

But then something appears like a glowing light saber, served up to me yesterday by my good friend Grant Potter. This falls under the “self-help” approach Doctorow speaks of.

It can work as simple as getting your eyes out of the fray of ads in a recipe https://cooked.wiki in front. So my experience goes from enshittified https://handletheheat.com/homemade-cheesy-garlic-biscuits/ to

In seconds the ad infested original recipe is neatly organized in cooked.wiki

First just appreciate that it cleverly parsed a web page into ingredients and instructions. It provides adjustments for different portion size. The directions can be dictated. The ingredients can be added to a list.

If you create an account, it can be saved (I now have a profile), and it even auto ads tags for your recipes. There are community features to follow other users, a means to mark ones you’ve cooked and add photos that become part of your journal. There is even a remix feature so you can save a version you have modified.

You can add recipes to your profile using the URL method above, pasting a URL into the site’s form field, just typing it in, or even describing it in audio.

Or as D’Arcy noted, this is a perfect example for a bookmarklet (I just made mine)

Now that is just what I have seen in the 10 minutes of exploring Cooked.wiki. Yet I see it as a use case for what we might do beyond trying to block the poop, we can use tech to filter it out? And then to actually do something beyond? Woah, Neo.

When I look at all these features in Cooked.wiki, I am pleasantly “gobsmacked”, as they say over yonder, at the simple yet intuitive functionality built in here. It feels like it was designed by a person like me, a citizen of the web, not by a greedy committee of overlords.

And it quite fits well with my own acts of using cooking as a metaphor for working with technology.

But more than that, here this tool can counter a small bit of the enshittification of web recipes, an act of disenshittification. I’m looking for more. I can’t do much from the top level but I can from down here.

Disenshittify Now!

PostPoopScript

When I rail against the ad-laden web, I invariable get the responses of just install adblocker! And Ghostery! Yes, I know of them and have used them. before That’s a partial personal solution, one I recommend.

But for me, I often want to experience the web like most ordinary folks do, who do not have the understanding to do this. It’s the general public view I want to be aware of. If I do not experience the web like other netizens, how can I concoct ideas to counter that experience (as if I really could).

If there is a place to sign up to be part of Disenshittification, I am there.

But now, I have a meal to prep. Who has a recipe for…


Featured Image: Activite4.2.1 liste wikimedia commons image by Cned-PA shared under a Creative Commons CC BY-SA license combined with cropped and duplicated smelly parts of Who Crapped in My Yard flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0), all which becomes CC BY-SA, eh?

2 large ugly piles of what we can only call poop are piled on a yellowed recipe card
If this kind of stuff has value, please support me by tossing a one time PayPal kibble or monthly on Patreon
Become a patron at Patreon!
Profile Picture for cogdog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

Comments

  1. I tried it out for myself and it works exactly as advertised.

    However.

    How is this site different from AI services that scrape websites and use the contents to generate their own content? (I’m not criticizing, it’s just I think they would be in the same category – wouldn’t they?)

    1. Significantly to me, if you consider more than just what pops out of the tool at the end,

      See my saved Cheesy Garlic Bread

      It links directly to and gives full credit to the source. It only extracts the recipe, it does not conjure it from all the cheesy garlic biscuit recipes out there (there are many). It represents, alter quoting Dave Winer’s description of blogging, “the recipe of one person, in their own voice”. There’s a time and place for summation and averaging of information and there’s a time and place to have the human experience. In my kitchen, I choose the latter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *