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Joe Crawford is a web developer in Roanoke, Virginia. joe@artlung.com

Reading on the web

Back in November I talked about using my Mom’s old iPod Touch.

In 2009 I got a second generation Kindle as a gift for my birthday (I asked for it) and that got me reading a bit more, but not as much as I thought it was.

I’m an avid Podcast listener, and I kept hearing people mention Instapaper. Around the same time as MAS talked about it (Using Instapaper for Web Legibility) I acquired the app for the iPod touch. I’ve found much the same thing: so many websites have become laden with ads and sidebars and nonsense that it’s hard to simply read. The computer is losing as a place for quality reading experiences. The rise of phones and tablets and e-readers shows us this. The form factor is better–more portable.

Reading at length requires focus. Computers don’t offer that.

What’s interesting is that there’s a flipside to distraction-free reading. Distraction-free writing. I talked about that in 2007 in a post called JDarkroom and focus.

I had never thought about the symmetry of reading and writing at length requiring focus, but it’s a moderately insightful thing.

Although the insight that things with any level of complexity might require some concentration, and so, require focus, might be a tautology.

Summarized: Instapaper is worth looking at if you like to read.

three comments so far...

The other trend in design that is making the web MUCH harder to read is small gray text on a white background. I seems to be everywhere now. Instapaper and Readability are essential tools.

Yeah, though I have to say I’m liking the combination of #333 gray on #fff white for my own site. I hope my text size is not too small.

I must admit I’m not as careful about rendering for people who use the Windows platform as I used to. But then, my audience is not a huge one, and I know many people read me in their, old-fashioned RSS readers, so get generic rendering there.

One thing I’m keenly interested in is adapting to a world where more people are reading things on mobile.

The font is smaller than I like, but you have good use of line spacing. #333 is MUCH better than #888, which is sadly becoming more common.

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