How Can I Improve My Online Reading Experience?

By Alexis C. Madrigal

Q: I have a hard time reading long articles on the computer, even really good ones. Google is making me stupid, etc. How can I improve my online reading experience?

ToolkitInBody.jpgA: You've got a couple of good options. Instapaper is a little bookmarklet that sits in your browser. When you get to a deep article that you'd like to read with less distractions, hit the little button and it will transform it into a special format. When you go to Instapaper.com or one of the apps available for phones and the iPad, you'll find a simple, "undesigned" interface of black text on a white background. We find it much easier to digest long stories in this format, particularly on mobile devices.

The website Readability offers a similar service. Readability looks better on most browsers, but Instapaper's device integration is really dynamite. There is no better way to read on a offline on a phone, which makes it great for plane or train trips.

Take a look for yourself below. The uncluttered interface makes it easier to focus on the words themselves. Here are screenshots of Nicholas Carr's story "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" as presented on (pre-redesign) TheAtlantic.com and then as displayed by Readability and Instapaper.

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This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/09/how-can-i-improve-my-online-reading-experience/61861/