Are you (still) reading on paper?

I was just a little surprised when I red the title of this article on Washington Post. Why digital native prefer reading in print… Well, I am not a “digital native” in any way (my age will prevent me to think that), so you may understand that I’m rather used to printed papers. As a matter of fact, I remember ages in which printed papers was the only way, since there was absolutely no alternatives.

With all of that, I admit that I got used to digital books quite fast. For me, their advantages are by far more intriguing in respect to their shortcomings. So that now I’m a bit annoyed when I do not find the electronic version of a text I want to read.

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Is reading in print really better?

Not that I do not understand the reasons explained in the article. Online distraction, for example, is a serious issue. Reading on a computer screen, or reading on a tablet it’s the same: just to put it down simply, you can do too much things. That’s fine, when you play games. That’s not so fine, when you want to concentrate on a difficult book. In the meddle of a difficult page you’re working on, you suddendly remember that you did not check your Facebook status in the last ten minutes! Well, let me see if any notification is waiting, after all it may be important. Oh, in passing, any new email? And what about Twitter replies?

That’s hardly deniable. It’s part of our world, nowadays.

That’s why I do not like reading from a computer of from a tablet.

Anyway, I feel that there is another option, which is not clearly covered in the article. Yes, the article generally talk about “reading from a screen” as simply opposed to “reading from paper”. Actually, there is a third choice: the ebooks devices (Kindle and similar stuff). When coming to serious reading (or studying) an ebook reader has several advantages.

The bigger advantage is that a Kindle cannot show your Facebook timeline. Yes, it can post portions of text you are reading (on Facebook and/or Twitter) but that’s all. It even cannot allow you to check emails, too (until you try to use the experimental browser inside, definitively not a easy route).

That’s very good when you want to seriously concentrate. I definitively need a device that cannot deal about my presence on social network, at least at a certain point of my day. I need something that does not show how many notification I’m missing on Facebook (oh, speaking of it, let me check now…)

A Kindle is a very good alternative to paper, in my opinion. Other considerations can be done: for example, it’s easy to highlight some part of text without any worries, since it’s now a “digital operation” fully reversible. Also, it allows you to carry around hundreds of books, without much effort.

Anyway, there will always be place for printed books (art publications, etc…). But it’s not too difficult to speculate that one day, reading on print could became the exception, not the rule.

How can I save stuff on Facebook?

Facebook is a great service, no doubt. You can find a lot of interesting stuff each day (together with a greater amount of not-so-interesting items, the so called waste of cyberspace). I’m pleased by the fact that you naturally build a sort of story of your posts, in the form of a diary, with easy access to past years and months.

You may already know that you can also easily integrate your diary with information from the past, such as the day of your birth (that’s fine, at that time you was not thinking about updating your timeline with smart phrases such as I was finally born or similar amenities, but more probably Facebook was not accepting messages yet, simply because it still did not exist).

That’s fine, but what about saving an interesting post? With saving, I mean here, having a way to access that post also after some hours, or days, from the original publication. You can like the post, of course. But this does not solve your problem, it only allows you to be notified for comments, from now on. What about a great post with few or no comments at all? How can you easily retrieve a list of all your liked post?

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Nope. There is no way to do it (at my knowledge).

What to do, in the not-too-infrequent case in which you find interesting stuff you want to retrieve at a later time?

Have you experienced the frustration arising from your complete inability to find a given post, at a distance of just a few hours from when you red it? It disappeared from your timeline, that’s all.

You know, Twitter has its way to do it. Tumblr has its way to do it. You can simply mark the post as favorite: anytime, you have an easy way to access to your favorite posts. Facebook has no way to do it. It’s interesting that neither Google+ has its way to do it: too much shaped on Facebook style?

Anyway, I think am pretty sure that it would be a very welcomed feature. At the moment, when I find something that I do not want to loose, I’m forced to copy/past the text in some note taking app or website (like the excellent MomoNote). Not that I do not see the advantage of this procedure. But I also understand that it’s not comfortable, having to switch to another environment just to save an interesting piece of text, for example.

To be honest, there are workarounds already available: for example, if you use Chrome you can benefit of extensions like Facebook Favourite. Anyway, even if the idea is good, it’s still far from obtaining the real benefits of a native Facebook feature, and apart from that, while the extension basically do it’s work, there is (let me say so) great  room for further improvements.

To have a Twitter style manner to save post for a later usage, will be simply great. Let’s hope Facebook just realize it.