June 11, 2010

Online Reading Focus

Jacquie Henry and others have been talking a bit about a certain book that is pointing out things I've been saying all along.  I don't have a problem with digital tools, but I definitely think a balance needs to be struck.  Along with these discussions have come a few links to some great tools to help you focus as you read online.  I've been an avid user of Readability for some time and can highly recommend it.  I'd never heard of Instapaper until this week but it's a similar tool.

Readability takes a colorful and flashy site with all the links and ads and small type and makes it, well, readable.

Instapaper does the same thing, but ironically it's not for instant reading like Readability is.  It's for capturing something you find online to read at a later date, but with a similar clean, uncluttered format.

These posts, like Jacquie's, also point to a thought-provoking post by the author of the book, Nicholas Carr who posits that all the embedded linking online changes the way we read.  Now, he says, as we read through a typical online article or blog post, we have to make a decision every time we come to a link on whether to keep reading or to hop on over to the link.  He's not advocating losing links altogether, just putting them at the end of an article so the reader can focus on what they're reading and then check out the links at the end at  their leisure.  Laura Miller, the Salon book critic, tried out this very thing in her article of the book being so discussed.

I like this approach and believe I will adopt it from now on if you have no objections.

Check the links out for yourself, but do add Readability and Instapaper to your toolbar first, if you haven't already.  You'll be glad you did.

Jacquie Henry's wonderful post, Your Brain on Computers



Nicholas Carr's Experiments In Delinkification and his much-discussed book, The Shallows

Laura Miller's review of The Shallows with links at the end and an updated commentary she's written on this practice.

(image cc flickr)