My life has been revolutionized. When I was a kid, I had to either subscribe to a Newspaper made of actual paper, or I had to go to the convenience store to purchase a copy. I loved flipping through the pages, but it was never very portable. I also hated how to make it portable, I had to make annoying creases that made it harder to turn pages when you were at Dunkin Donuts. But other than for coupon clipping (which is also going online), I now no longer use a physical paper. Why? Because two services online have completely streamlined the process for me in a much more efficient manner. The two programs are Twitter and Instapaper.
On my Ipod Touch, I have a program called “Tweetie” which takes Twitter and makes it very easy to post and read other’s posts. I get a steady stream of information about my peers in Youth Ministry, as well as from friends who are doing whatever. Much of the info, I just scroll through, but when there are interesting headlines from local news sources Twittering, or from “The Economist” or CNNBRK – I click it.
That is when I have some options. 1) I can just go to the article and read it in Tweetie’s built in browser. That is fine if I have time, but often I’m moving about, so an option to put into “Instapaper” also comes up.
Instapaper is an online program that saves blogs, articles, and online content for later. You sign up (rather easily by putting in an email) and then you click on a button to install the “Read Later” bookmark in your browser. Every time you surf through an interesting article on something like “Youth Saves Lives”, but don’t have time that second, just click “Read Later”. You can later go to the Instapaper website, and click on your list (and make folders to categorize them) and the articles come up on Instapaper’s servers. It is your own private newspaper collection.
Then, I take it further. I found out that Instapaper has a free (and a paid – worth it!) app on Apple’s App Store. The paid app costs 4.99 but gives you such flexibility that it is lightyears beyond the free version. Now, on my Ipod Touch, I upload my “Read Later” articles through the app when I have Internet access, and then later (when I’m at the Dentist’s office where there tends to be old “Time” magazines and “ESPN” – which I don’t read), I open Instapaper on my Itouch and BAM! I’m have about 45 minutes or so of reading material I’ve downloaded to the Itouch’s harddrive.
It’s hard for me to explain how this has streamlined my news intake. A possible critique of this is that I’m only getting the news I want. Well, I tend to go to many news sources on Twitter to balance myself out. I read many headlines, and I like to think I’m fair and balanced in finding opposing viewpoints in order to get the big picture. On the side, It’s been great to categorize good Youth Ministry (my profession) blogs for later, so that I can go back to the article later and print it out for Youth Leader Training, or for encouragement, or whatever. Truly fantastic.
Even if you don’t have an Ipod or Itouch, check out Instapaper.com, install the Bookmark, and see how neat this is. I never really go to Google News anymore thanks to this little wonder. It’s so much more efficient, and I like to use up those quiet moments (like at the DMV) when you could be stressing, for good reading and current events instead.