Monday, November 09, 2009

Anybody using Readability-tm?

from The New York Times: Pogue's Posts [November 6, 2009]

Cleaning Up the Clutter Online

"Readability has changed my life. It’s a new button on your Web browser’s toolbar. With one click, it eliminates EVERYTHING from the Web page you’re reading except the text and photos. No ads, blinking, links, banners, promos or anything else.

The text is also changed to a beautiful font and size (you choose them in advance) and the background is made plain white (or a light shading of your choice). Basically, it makes any Web page look like a printed book page or a Kindle page, and it’s glorious.
I’ve never understood how people can read Web articles when there’s Times-Square blinking going on all around them. Fortunately, I’ll never have to put up with them again. One click does the trick, thanks to Readability—and it’s free. (You get it, and set it up, here. It’s what’s known as a bookmarklet; you install it in your Web browser just by dragging its button onto your toolbar.)

When I mentioned Readability on Twitter, there were hundreds of “OMG, this changes everything!” responses. There were also a few remarks like, “Hey, without the ads, how do you expect Web sites to pay for those articles you’re enjoying?”

Well, first of all, you still see the ads—before you click the Readability button.

Second, and more important, I don’t think advertisers should be blinking, animating and distracting in the first place. If I’m interested in the product, I’ll read the ad. But trying to pull my focus as I’m trying to read crosses some kind of line. You know what? I would never click any ad that blinks or animates in the first place. It’s obnoxious and juvenile, and I’m not about to reward them.

Now and then, Readability can’t parse the page correctly, and it isolates the wrong block of text. No biggie; just refresh the page to bring back the original.

Readability is far more than an ad blocker. It addresses multiple unpleasant trends in Web layout these days: type getting too small, layouts getting cluttered and complex, text overlapping with graphics, ads interrupting the flow of the prose, and so on. (You can print or e-mail the cleaned-up page, too.)

It completely transforms the Web experience, turning your computer into an e-book reader. I think I’m in love."

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