Readlists and Telling a Story

Readlists Logo

This morning, Arc90, makers of Readability1, introduced Readlists. Here’s how they describe it:

What’s a Readlist? A group of web pages—articles, recipes, course materials, anything—bundled into an e-book you can send to your Kindle, iPad, or iPhone.

Users can create lists of great content they find around the Web and package them together into one group, which can then be shared, downloaded as an eBook or embedded on a Web site. Of course, each article can also be sent to Readability right from the Readlist page.

The site launched with a few featured lists, like this one from Jeffrey Zeldman dubbed “User First, Mobile First, Content First.” When you create a Readlist, you can add a blurb describing the list. In Zeldman’s case, “Designing for a content-focused, increasingly mobile, browser- and device-agnostic web.” Then the articles are listed in numeric order (set by the Readlist creator) with title, author (if available), base URL and a short description of the piece which is pre-populated with 30-40 words of the linked material.

This feels like another service that tries to make sharing more convenient but, in so doing, helps silo the open Web. Storify is another example of this. I often feel the impulse to document events I see unfolding in Storify, but whenever I get the urge I remember that I already have a platform for sharing such things: this Web site.2

I realize not everyone wants to run their own Web site or blog, but it’s certainly nice to own the content you create. Putting together a list of relevant articles to read is no small thing, tantamount to putting together a syllabus or editing a scholarly compendium. Doing it isn’t that hard, but doing it well is. Taking that talent and giving it away is a shame.

Readlists isn’t for me, but I’m sure there is an audience for something like this. If you find yourself getting good at telling a story by stringing together disparate strands of knowledge and garnering an audience, I suggest you go out and plant a Web site somewhere. It won’t take much longer than reading this article.

  1. See previous coverage here and an interview with Richard Ziade of Arc90 here↩︎

  2. Which isn’t to day Storify doesn’t have a place, but that’s a different post. ↩︎