Reading “The Year Without Pants” by Scott Berkun. Interesting that (at least at the time he worked there), all of Automattic communicates almost exclusively through P2 blogs and IRC, both of which maintain an infinite, publicly available (withing the company) history of all communication, decisions, discussions, etc…

To Learn Writing, You Must Read

As a software developer by trade, I should probably be spending more of my time reading great source code.

How to do that?

I grew up doing a lot of writing – essays, fiction, poetry, all that stuff. And of course I went to school, where they make you read good stuff that people have written over the last thousand years.

But when you goto school for programming, they don’t make you read “classic” software source code. They teach you to write your own source code. And while that’s a useful technical skill, there’s a lot you can learn from actually reading other great writing – whether it be code, fiction, or even tweets. In software development, there are a lot of people writing little mini tutorials and walkthroughs where they discuss some technical feature of a language or a way to approach programming your way out of a particular technical paper bag. But those simplistic snippets of “great text” are nothing compared with the immersive experience of actually reading and understanding a complete work, cohesively.

But still, how to do that?

Tools that Simplify How You Read the Web

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The web has become so complex that reading simple content on a typical page often feels like an exercise designed to test your powers of concentration.

Between banner ads, pop-ups, sidebars, “Click to continue” links, and similar standard web page features, the important content often gets lost.

Evernote, Instapaper, etc…

A few years ago, Evernote gave us a partial answer in the form of Evernote Clearly. Since then, the tool has been merged into the increasingly useful Evernote Web Clipper.

Other tools have also tried to bridge the gap between what web publishers are serving and what web consumers want to eat – probably most notably Instapaper, which allows you to turn almost any web page into a beautifully formatted, easy-to-read text for offline reading – free of slow load times and intrusive pop-ups.

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Tapped Out?

At this point, the market for offline reading and format-simplication tools for the web is probably about tapped out. Yeah, I’d love to see a merging of the features of Instapaper and Evernote, so that I might have a dedicated sort of hot list of offline reading items that’s easy to use within my vast Evernote account. But altogether I’d say we have some pretty good tools available right now and there’s probably not much new going to happen in this area for a while.

What about you? Got a great feature idea you’d like to see the web tools makers provide right now to help with offline reading?