Notes in the Margin

On the intersection of web apps, digital content and social media

Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

Reading Habits and Processes

In an article called How Online Reading Habits Have Changed Over 2010, ReadWriteWeb posted a good summary of some important trends in how we read – especially, how we consume news and long-form journalism.

One of the more subtle trends of 2010 has been the way that our reading habits have changed, due to a convergence of other Web trends: mobile apps, real-time Web (mostly Twitter), and social networking as a way to track news (mostly Facebook). In the previous era of the Web, the so-called Web 2.0, RSS Readers and start pages were all the rage. Over 2010, though, more people used tools like Twitter, Facebook, Instapaper, Flipboard, LazyWeb, Feedly and TweetDeck, to track news.

Nowadays I’m more likely to find stories to read via a vertical aggregator (the media-focused Mediagazer is my current favorite) and save them to Instapaper for later reading via my iPhone or iPad. I still use Google Reader, but in all honesty I now use it more to scan than to read.

Of particular interest is the implied process by which we scan, select and then consume content. Scanning content happens either manually – visually poring over a feed in Twitter, Facebook or RSS – or algorithmically, ala My6Sense (with which you then visually scan). Selecting content, for me, involves when and where to read:

  • Short news items – the weather, the Patriots score, factoids, etc. – can be read in place, in the feed.
  • I’ll often bookmark on Delicious items of potential interest, just for the record. How many times have I thought to myself, “Didn’t I see something about that somewhere?”
  • But for articles and longer thought pieces of interest, as suggested in this article, Instapaper is great. With an iPad or iPhone it’s very useful – for reading on a train, for example, but it’s also often a more useful context to read articles anyway, because it strips the distracting ads and cruft around the edges.

Content I/O

One thing not discussed, which seems like the very key to social media in 2010, is how we respond and share these items with others. For this I have my own personal algorithm, as I’m sure everyone does, implicitly or explicitly.

  1. For articles of general interest, there is shared bookmarks with an app like, again, Delicious or Digg.
  2. For Facebook users, The Like button is also a really easy way to share an item. You may want to think about pressing “Like” for news items or personal posts, but not products and services, for which the service is there to capture your profile and friends for subsequent spamming.
  3. For news items you more actively want to share, there is Facebook and Twitter. We may have slightly different social graphs in each environment, so what you share on Twitter will differ from that on Facebook. I suppose this is a good use of the Facebook app, Selective Tweets. And of course, many sites offer the convenience of posting to Facebook or Twitter.
  4. Finally, a blog is useful when you discover a piece of content like the one referenced here, that makes you think more broadly about it’s application and relevance. Here you can add a blog post that also includes additional reflections (as is the case here).

Socializing Content

What if you wanted to take a news item and post it for further discussion with a discrete group? Facebook certainly provides this in the ability to “Like” and comment on posts there, though the Facebook discussion UI is flat and limiting. The same is true with blog comments, with the additional challenge that it requires readers to actually navigate to your blog.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to have a tool where you could comment in place? There is an emerging set of tools in the “Social Commenting” space, such as Disqus, Fytch, IntenseDebate and Backtype. These seem to be preliminary offerings, but perhaps harbingers of further reading and sharing evolution.

via How Online Reading Habits Have Changed Over 2010.


Written by tstaley

December 7, 2010 at 7:25 am