I’ve often told friends that the Internet has made me dumber. Here’s why.
In the early 90s there wasn’t really an internet. Most of the content I wanted to learn about came from magazines. At the time, I was a heavy duty Commodore Amiga nerd. I would get a couple Amiga magazines that I would devour each month. It was really my only source of tech information. I could easily say I was an expert in this subject.
Today, I have more information then I could ever hope to digest. My problem is I have an insatiable hunger. You could say I’m a glutton for information.
Surfing the web is like sitting down with a bag of chips. You only intend to consume a little bit and before you know it you eat the entire bag. And, like someone who eats too many snacks, I’m left unsatisfied and feeling a little sick. I don’t really feel like I absorb the information, my mind doesn’t really become enriched.
I am trying to go on an information diet and cut down on the things that I’m consuming. In order to help me with this I’ve developed a workflow using some cool web and iOS apps that I’d like to share with you.
Pinboard and Pocket
My new internet consumption workflow involves three services. Pinboard – a bookmarking service, Pocket – a read it later service and If This Than That (IFTTT) – a really interesting service that allows you to glue together internet applications.
Here’s what I do in brief.
When I come across an article I think I want to read I send it to Pocket.
I then use either the Pocket website or, more likely, Pocket on my iPad or iPhone to read the articles I’ve saved.
If it’s an article I want to keep around, I favorite it in Pocket. IFTTT automatically saves all favorites as bookmarks in my Pinboard account.
Here’s how to set this up.
- Create an account on Pinboard. Pinboard is a paid service but I think costs less than $10.00 for a lifetime membership. If you want to store your bookmarks online and make them available everywhere then it’s well worth the money. An upgraded version will actually store the content of the webpages. Over time you’ll build up your own personal web cache of all of the pages you’ve ever bookmarked. This is great for research.
- Install the Pinboard chrome extension. This extension lets you bookmark a webpage from within the Chrome browser. There are extensions for other browsers too.
- Create an account on GetPocket. Pocket is a free service.
- Install the Pocket Chrome extension. There are extensions for other web browsers too.
- Create an account on IFTTT. After creating an account, use this recipe which will take any item starred within Pocket and save it to Pinboard.
- Start reading the internet!
- From time to time, visit your Pinboard account and add extra labels to your articles. It will help you when you try to search for things a year from now. Note that if you upgrade to the full web cache then you get full text search. This makes tagging less necessary.
Time will tell if this is a good workflow for me. So far, I like it. It solves two big problems I have with consuming information. The first is removing distractions. Pocket allows me to read the web without ads and extra distractions that go along with a web page. The second is remembering to bookmark things I read. Now, I operate under the assumption that if an article was worth my time reading at all then it’s worth bookmarking.
How do you avoid information gluttony? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.