Reading on the Web

My three main devices for reading are my laptop, my not-iPhone and paper. I’m pretty good at reading on paper, unless not-iPhone is nearby and/or I had too much coffee to drink. Laptop is a pretty crappy reading experience, and the not-iPhone is just a tad too small to enjoy reading for great lengths of time.

I always thought it was my fault. That I’m too easily distracted, not engaged in the subject enough, etc. Or that I’ve been conditioned to think without depth — what Nicholas Carr was saying in The Shallows.

But a few stories making their way around blogland recently has allowed me to pause, relax, and scan the contents of their articles for information.

The first, How Crappy Advertising is Destroying the Web, seems to be about the distracting, ill-placed ads that focus on distracting you from the content you’re allegedly enjoying.

The hopeful second, The Readable Future, envisions a world where publications acknowledge the trend of readers going to third-party services like Instapaper for a good reading experience — a trend publishers can counter by fixing their crappy sites.

The third, Please Let This Not be the Future of Reading on the Web, is a more general call for more reader-centric copy.

I couldn’t agree with this sentiment more. It’s (at least partly) why I avoid sites like the Huffington Post (and to a lesser extent Salon). But at the end of the day, writers and their publishers need to get paid somehow. I worry about the day that obtrusiveness is traded for more blatant paid product placements or similar evil scheme.