Read Later Shotgun

Back in my Netscape 3 days, my bookmark.html was incompletely saved losing about 2/3rds of the file. Researching how to fix it revealed to me the file was just an HTML file. My new editing skills could not recover it, but I could make a new copy and fix individual entry losses. Making a copy onto a floppy disk meant I could take my bookmarks with me. I noticed that saving them longer enabled me to preserve a bunch of sites I did not go back to see.

Somehow I decided to maintain my own home page that lived on the floppy disk. Pages I wanted to read later, I would add to the bottom of the home page. A few years later, I created a password protected secret page in my work personal web site to replace the floppy. The strategy was the same of keeping an HTML file. Stuff I did read, I removed from the file. Ugly, but it worked.

Then I started blogging. Reminders to myself to read something came by posting them to my blog. As I was constantly in my blog, I did go back and read things. Not removing read links meant confusion and sometimes multiple reads. Eventually I stopped reading links saved for later.

Bookmarking and clipping web sites arrived, especially their exploiting code placed in the toolbar to record bookmarks. I tried several: Evernote, Delicious, Magnolia, Diigo, Instapaper. However, I found I rarely went back to look at what I saved. Saving entries was easy. To see what I saved required going to the site, which I rarely did. Often by the time I did go back to read bookmarked items, they had slid behind the paywall or expired, so pure bookmarking sites were awful. Clipping had its own failure in that multiple paged articles made saving content a pain and reduced the likelihood I would save it to read later.

Most of my online reading came from blogs, so I tried to use my RSS reading to handle it. First with bloglines and later with Google Reader, I thought starring entries would perfectly handle what to read later. Keeping entries marked as unread certainly did not as it has the annoyance of automatically marking as read anything older than 30 days. The feature to tag posts with something like “read later” helped. It works but only for posts in GReader.

Chrome added an Apps feature. Surely Read Later Fast would be the solution. It is in my web browser, so like the home page it is around all the time. Like the saving web sites it preserved the whole page. With a single click I could dismiss it as read. I just… forgot it was there. (I just re-installed the app and connected it to to find over a dozen items from over a year ago.)

Guess what I really need is something like Read Later Fast to have an icon in the address bar to remind stupid me there is stuff for me to read. (I use One Number to remind me I have Gmail and GReader posts to read.)

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

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