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A New Reading

January 17th, 2011 · 3 Comments

I love to read, and I’ve been moving more and more of my reading from paper to mobile devices since my first Palm whatever-it-was. I read a lot on my iPhone these days, and I’ve got my schtick down pat. Basically, in terms of categorizing content, you’ve got: books and articles. The articles are further broken into short form and long form. Short form can be considered blog posts, Twitter, Facebook updates, etc. Long form articles are what you’d be familiar with in a serious magazine or journal.

I’m not going to list out all the different ways you can read stuff on your particular digital setup. I just want to point out some good tools that I’m currently using. For books, I use the Kindle and Nook apps. Both are free, and both allow you to lend/borrow books from other users (someone’s gotta buy the book first, of course).

I acquire my short form articles via RSS, and I use Google Reader as the clearinghouse for storing my subscriptions. I use the native Google Reader web interface on my computer, and I use the Reeder app on my iPhone. Everything is sync’d up nicely. I have a lot of subscriptions, and I’m not particularly fastidious about reading every update that comes through every subscription every day. I’m totally comfortable “marking all as read” and just moving on. I’m confident that if I initially miss something that’s interesting/important, I’ll eventually see it.

Finally, the really great trick is with the longer form articles. I’ll run across stuff that I’m interested in reading, but just don’t have the time to read. I used to mark these with a star in Google Reader and revisit them from time to time. That didn’t work terribly well for me. These days I use an app called Instapaper. The app lives on my iPhone, but I also frequent the web site. Instapaper provides a bookmarklet that I click when I’m on a page with a longer article that I’d like to read later. It simply saves the article, with advertisements stripped out, for later viewing on mobile device or computer. It’s genius, and I use it all the time to read stuff during those previously wasted minutes standing in lines or waiting for others. It’s great. Instapaper is iPhone only, but Android users can achieve the same thing with Read It Later (also available on iPhone and other platforms). Instapaper and Read It Later work so well that there are now aggregators of long form articles that might be of interest. Check out Best of the Moment, The Essayist, Give Me Something To Read, and Longform. There is occasionally overlap with the offerings, but it’s worth the annoyance.

On top of all this, there are apps like Evernote which allow you to store your digital detrius, some of which might be important documents to which you may need quick access. I view these kinds of apps as more of a backup/storage solution for certain types of information, and not a primary location for general reading. Still, it has it’s place.

What’s your reading workflow?

Tags: reading