Online reading can be a bit of a pain. I don’t do so much online reading that this is a common annoyance, but it has happened. You link to an interesting page with an interesting story or video, but you’re in the middle of something else, or you were about to step out the door, or your procrastination is suddenly disturbed by a second or third bout of procrastination from that procrastination. So you either click away from the page and it’s existence is forgotten, or you minimize the window intending to return to it later. Only, when three days later you decide it would be a good idea to reboot your computer, because you’ve installed a new update, all your minimized windows disappear and you don’t even remember what was on them to find them again.
Solution? In today’s post I offer three sites for your consideration in managing your online paper problem
Instapaper offers the easiest, simplest solution so far as I can tell. Make an account with the fine folks at Instapaper, add their bookmarklet to your bookmarks, and away you go. When you find a page that interests you (this fine blog for instance), but find you don’t have enough time to read it, you go up to your bookmarks, click on your Instapaper read later bookmarklet, and voila! This page is saved to your Instapaper page. Now just check in to your Instapaper site when you have the time to peruse all of the interesting pages you’ve left for later reading. When you go to your page to read it, you can either link right to the site, or choose to let Instapaper to cut off the fat and just show you the text of the page. Instapaper also lets you review your saved material on your iPhone or iPad, star favourites, and archive oldies so you don’t need to browse through them all the time. And there are some other extras, like integration with Google Reader, the ability to email links to your Instapaper page, and integration with a schmorgasboard of different iPhone and iPad apps.
Yahoo!’s Delicious is a side step from Instapaper. It does essentially the same thing, but with a difference in available features. Whereas Instapaper is for your personal use, Delicious is what’s called a social bookmarking site. Social bookmarking allows users to, essentially, share their bookmarks. When you add bookmarks you can choose to add tags that allow fellow bookmarkers to search through wide array of bookmarks by topic or category. You can also make subscriptions based on tags that interest you. So if you’re looking for sites with interesting things to say on your new uggs, you might make a subscription with the tags shoes and annoying. From there, you can find people with similar bookmarking interests as yourself and add them to your network, making it easier to share the new bookmarks you both find.
Personally, Instapaper seems a lot more interesting to me. I think I’ve been pretty good about trying a lot of new web-based networks and apps since starting this blog, but if I didn’t have this blog to write, I would never use Delicious (though I don’t do so much online reading, so I don’t really use Instapaper either). That said, for all you bloggers out there, Delicious is a great way to keep track of sites that you want to remember to refer to or use in your next post, but don’t necessarily care to have saved in your browser. At the moment I’ve added a little Delicious widget over there on the right-hand side of the page that shows you recent bookmarks I’ve added to my Delicious account, because this is the pool of sites I will be drawing from as I continue to write new posts.
So we have Instapaper, good for personal use. Delicious, good for sharing. I don’t know about you, but I find it pretty annoying when I am using two services that are so similar, but just different enough that they’re good for different things, rendering both indispensable. Technology should allow us to simplify the things we want to do, so there’s gotta be something out there that can cover the bases that Instapaper and Delicious do.
In fact there is, and it’s called Diigo. Diigo combines the best intentions of both Instapaper and Delicious, with more features and the result is greater than the sum of its parts. Diigo lets you bookmark pages to be read for later, and you can share them with others using the social network aspect of the site. But Diigo also lets you highlight and annotate any text on the page. You can add other document types to your Diigo library as well, like photos or text documents. Diigo also has apps for Android, iPhone and iPad, so you can access any saved item in your Diigo library from your mobile device to edit or read on the go. There’s also an offline ability for mobile devices which lets you download items from your library so that you can review them when you have no web connection.
All three of these services have their own bookmarklets, and Diigo has a toolbar that you can add to your browser that allows you the functionality of highlighting, annotating, etc. At the moment I’m using both Delicious and Diigo, but not by choice. I’m trying to make my saved links available on this blog from Diigo, but there’s some issue with the code, so I’m trying to work that out. You can still access my Diigo account from the My Diigo link on the right, but I’ve synced it up with my Delicious account (yes, Diigo allows you to simultaneously add bookmarks to your Delicious account when you add one to your Diigo) which is displaying with some of my most recent bookmarks just above.