Menu

Brandon Rome

web, optimal, and things

Read More, Read Better

I use a few tools to manage my e-reading. These tools allows me to follow dozens of blogs, listen to a handful of podcasts, and quickly digest random Internet content with ease.

Squirt

Squirt is a speed reader bookmarklet. I’ve used a lot similar tools, but this is my favorite. It allows you to adjust the speed, rewind, and pause. You can highly text, click the bookmarklet, and consume lots of words in no time. For instance, I can read a 650 word article in ~1.6 minutes (at 450 wpm).

You pause with the space bar, rewind with the left arrow, and up/down increase/decrease the WPM.

Pocket

Pocket is a bookmarking/legibility tool. It’s ideal for saving articles to read later & applying an adjustable style for easier reading: you can change font face, sizing, contrast, etc. The mobile app (Android & iPhone) also offers TTS (text-to-speech), so you can listen to articles.

Regarding the TTS, you can adjust the voice used (accents) and playback speed, which again helps you consume more data in less time.

Feedly

Of the information consumption tools mentioned, Feedly is by far my most used. Feedly is an RSS aggregator. It’s rise came in the wake of Google shutting down Reader, formerly (and arguably) the most popular tool of it’s kind.

The concept of an RSS reader is simple: You subscribe to all of your favorite sites’ RSS feeds. In other words, it serves up all of the content you want, all under one roof.

On top of just bringing all of the content together, you can categorize feeds, mark items as read (so you don’t re-read the same headlines 5x), change the article thumbnail for easier consumption (for instance, seeing large thumbnails for photo blogs), and even export them to Pocket, share them on Facebook, or a slew of other options.

They also have a mobile app (Android & iPhone).

Bonus: SoundGecko to Feedly

SoundGecko‘s free plan allows you to convert up to 30 articles per day (maximum of 4,000 words per article) to a mp3 format using TTS, similar to what Pocket does. Except, instead of having a user interface like Pocket, it dumps the converted files in to a private RSS feed. As mentioned above, you can add your RSS feed to Feedly, and then listen to your news articles rather than read them.

I also have the same RSS feed added to my BeyondPod (Android podcast player/manager), so I can listen to them while commuting as well.

Conclusion

All of the above services are free, or freemium (meaning they have a premium feature you can opt in to). That said, I consume a good bit of information through these methods and have yet to find the need to move to the paid platforms outside of supporting these wonderful developers.

There are dozens of services like each one of the aforementioned, and each with their own ups and downs (as with anything else). It’s just a matter of finding out what tools work for you and your individual lifestyle.

If you have any suggestions of alternatives, share them in the comments.

Leave a Reply