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Post To And Read Your TO READ List From Anywhere With Email

I don’t know how this is going to work once we start Waving everybody, but for now, this is how I populate my To Read List without using Delicious or Instapaper or {Your App Here}, but rather with a tool that requires no additional sign-ups: Email.

Okay, I lied a little. You’ll need an RSS Reader too. Because, if you didn’t have one of those, really, what would you be reading? Hardcopy newspapers? Get outta here! Anyway, I use Google Reader, but any RSS Reader with an “Email This” function will do (I know that Bloglines has one).

Here we go:

  1. Set up filtering mechanisms for articles to add to your To Read List
      • For this, I added a contact in Gmail called Filtered Reader and added a “+asdfasdf” to my email address for that contact
      • Then, I added a filter for that particular version of my email address that will skip my Inbox and apply the To Read label
  2. Then, you go to Google Reader and as you go through items, if you don’t feel like opening it in a new tab to read (I know this is a common practice), you can instead just email it to yourself
  3. Do the same thing in your Twitter client by emailing yourself Tweets that you want to follow up on (ones where people post links to things you want to read)

Okay, now, I guess the “Anywhere” part of the subject will take some additional work. I.e., it will probably require a smart phone if you really want to read your To Read List anywhere. Of course, you can get an iPhone 3G for only $99 (at the time of this writing), and the normal 3G is plenty fast enough, because all you’re going to want to do now is make sure that the emails sitting in your To Read label or folder are downloaded onto your phone. *POOF* You now have your To Read List with you anywhere you bring your phone!

And! You can post to it using your phone as well because Google Reader has a very nice web interface. That will, of course, only work in places where you have 3G access, but I’ve heard talk that they’re going to develop off-line capable versions of the web apps, so if/when that becomes a reality, it will solve that problem.

Why Use This Jacked Up System Instead of The Glorious {Your App Here}?

Well, basically, because when I use {Your App Here}, I only use one end of it. That is, I post to it. But I never actually read it. My Delicious bookmarks To Read tag has 58 links going back as far as 2006.

But {Your App Here} Has an Awesome iPhone App!

So does Email. In fact, Gmail has two awesome iPhone apps: Mail.app and the Gmail Mobile Website. This allows me to download email to my phone for off-line access or apply multiple colored labels to emails. And as we (should) all know, everyone sits their with their email app open all day, but I would imagine that most people don’t sit with Delicious or Instapaper open all day. A To Read List in your email is ready to go without doing anything but switching folders.

Added Bonus: Instead of deleting a read item as you would have to do with Delicious or some other bookmarking services (not sure how Instapaper works for that), you can just remove the To Read label and you’ll still have the full article accessible if you want to refer to it later.

So, is it Opposite Day at Google?

From the Official Google Reader blog, a post about sharing with friends and making new friends. Now, I don’t have a lot of “Google Reader Friends” and I use my Shared Items to feed into a sidebar widget over here, so maybe I’m just not into the whole “sharing” thing enough, but this part seems really overly complicated to me:

By hovering over the name of an unfamiliar commenter you can see their profile picture and the links they’ve added to their Google Profile. Furthermore, you can click the “Start sharing” link to start sharing your shared items with that person!

This is a great way to add new people to your friends list. When that person next logs in, they’ll see an option to view your shared items as well as the option to start sharing with you. If they reciprocate, you’ll have a new friend in your Reader.

I mean, I guess they’re erring on the side of privacy but really, is a thing called Shared Items supposed to be all that private? It seems to me that it would make a lot more sense to do the Twitter-style follow for this one, and send The Sharer an email when The Follower starts viewing their shared items. Then The Sharer can reciprocate if they want by following The Follower, and if they don’t want to follow The Follower back, they don’t have to do anything (as opposed to having to make a decision in Google’s model). Yes, this means that The Sharer has to be willing to share their items publicly to start with, but that seems to have worked out pretty well for Twitter. And I’d argue that sharing and commenting on items via Google Reader is orders of magnitude less personal than the kind of things people put on Twitter. All this “privacy” thing means is that Google has to add this kind of disclaimer to make sure people can understand how it is going to work:

Note: You can stop sharing your items with someone at any time by visiting the Sharing settings link in your left sidebar. Also, if someone chooses to share with you, your shared items are not visible to that person unless you consent. Finally, the “start sharing” link in profile cards will also only appear to those users sharing with friends, and not those sharing only with chat buddies.

It just seems like a real backwards way of doing it.