Five things I want from a deferred reading client

I follow a lot of interesting people on Twitter. For better or worse, a lot of them have morphed into link-posters, so there’s a lot of interesting stuff coming my way, too much to read right there and then.

In 2009 I described how I get through tweeted links. Since then tools have come and gone and new habits have emerged.

Here’s what I want from a deferred reading client today.

1. Zero-excise defer/remember across devices, browsers and apps.

I know it’s not easy but I wish it was possible to mark items for deferred reading in the FB app too, etc. I’ve set up a IFTTT job that pushes faved Tweets into Evernote and Read It Later. I fave tweets using Tweetbot’s triple-tap-to-fave (you can set triple tap up to do a lot of things) but really, a button or hit zone for faving directly in the timeline with *one* click would be better.

2. Readable view options that understand the writer’s formatting, now or later.

Readability has nice options and good fonts but sometimes destroys explanatory typography and fudges image loading. Evernote Clearly sort of understands what to do. Read It Later has OK formatting and a few nice options but boring fonts and doesn’t let me make pages more legible right then and there.

3. Painless access across devices with background sync’ed local copies and cloud backup.

Waiting for the various reading clients to sync is incredibly annoying. Having copies of pages in Evernote has been a life saver more than once. For a while I used BrowseBack to save everything I read but it’s a separate web client that operates in the background, stupidly duplicating your browsing bandwidth and requiring a separate login. A plugin that just saved whatever you were reading in your preferred browser would be a more elegant solution. In terms of having a copy and being able to browse through what you’d read before it was great, especially when looking for an item that you remembered the looks, but not the title of.

4. Great refindability

This could use text mining, metadata, content popularity, the item’s topics, your tags, others’ tags and time/date/geo tags. When I’m done reading I might want to add a comment, tag it or throw it into a bundle without jumping to yet another tool.

5. Intelligent suggestions for related items, topics, writers is something I haven’t found yet.

Back when Delicious was still alive I would always do a reverse search on a URL to see who had tagged it, see how they had described it and then explore their links. Now that everyone’s tweeting links instead it’s a lot harder to see their link sets. By connecting a deferred reading client to my Twitter account, I could offer my tweeted/shared links to others too.

That pretty much takes care of active reading. But what about passive reading, i.e. vacuuming my Twitterstream for links and following people’s shares and posts in other channels?

The now-defunct ReadTwit did a great job of this and turned my tweeps’ links into a full-content RSS stream that was easy to skim. Instead of mentally parsing 100 characters in a tweet and deciding whether to fave it or not (and thus push it to a deferred reading client), everything goes in and I skim the feed, mark a few for late reading or read them at length in the original design or in a more readable version and tag them.

The line between a newsreader and a deferred reading client is quite blurred. For me, a blend of Feedly, Read It Later, Readability and the old Delicious would be perfect, but for now I am stuck with a discombobulated mix of the same apps. Read here, save there, tag over there. Bah.

What would work for you?

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