One of my goals for 2018 is to read more. I’ve been purchasing more books, but my primary medium for content is via the web. This goal prompted me to step back and reassess how I consume media online.
The Old Way
My old process consisted of two main sources: Reddit and Hacker News. I’m sure most people know what Reddit is by now, given that it’s the 3rd most visited website in the US. Hacker News is a stripped back Reddit-like aggregator ran by Y Combinator specifically targeted at the tech industry. Users can upvote interesting content which makes it more discoverable to others. Simple as that.
I’d check these websites daily, reading various subreddits and diving deep in comment threads. It had worked pretty well. However, I saw a couple places for improvements.
- There was no shared history across both sources. Sure, Reddit has a view history and HN has an upvote history, but there’s no single source of truth. This problem exacerbates itself when adding another source into the mix (e.g. NY Times).
- My bookmarks were flooded with articles I wanted to save forever or read later. This list was starting to get out of hand (and again, not a single source of truth).
- I wanted to consume more content sources, specifically news sites, without having to check 4-5 websites daily.
- Lots of news sites have poorly designed interfaces filled with cruft. Your adblocker can only do so much. It doesn’t surpass a paywall or improve the page layout.
The New Way
I was able to solve the aforementioned issues using a combination of Feedly and Instapaper. Let’s talk about these both individually.
Feedly is essentially a news aggregator. You are able to combine multiple content sources together by subscribing to RSS feeds. This saves you time by not having to visit all the sites individually.
Your feeds can be organized into different channels (e.g. dev, news, people, life). Feedly can then determine which articles are the most popular and narrow down your firehose of information. Once I’ve found an article I want to read, I’ll send it over to Instapaper.
Side note: Thanks to Rands for suggesting the use of Feedly.
Instapaper is a simple tool for saving web pages to read later on your phone or computer. It removes the superfluous content of websites and presents the article in an elegant, digestible form.
On top of that, with Instapaper you have the ability to read articles offline, keeping track of your position in the article across devices. There’s even a time estimate for reading the article. Really helpful stuff.
The killer feature for me is having a single source of truth. Now, I have an archived history of all articles I’ve read, as well as one referencable place for my favorites. No more bookmarks mess. No more fragmentation. Hello, efficiency.
This new process has been working great for me, but I’m curious to hear what others do. If you have any suggestions or improvements, let me know! There are a variety of similar products out there (e.g. Feeder and Pocket). Leave me a comment if this article was helpful and has you reconsidering how you consume media online.