Brandon Oliver Smith is a Manager on the Strategy team at Social Media Group. Follow @brandonXoliver.

“Why don’t you read a book!??” In hindsight, I should have given my mum more credit when she lectured me about this as a teenager. Unfortunately, I was too wrapped up justifying how reading a computer screen counted just the same. Flash forward 15 years and the majority of my reading is still done on a screen. What’s changed are my reading tools, sources and workflows. I thought I’d examine these and share with you what’s worked for me.

I’m a bit obsessed with systems that help me discover new content. I suspect this obsession is rooted in my days “digging in the crates” as a DJ. Building a collection of trustworthy, unique and interesting reading sources is weirdly similar to building a library of unique and interesting music. There’s a lot of poking around involved. Through investigation and documentation it’s possible to construct networks of connections between artists and labels (or in the case of reading; authors and sites).
I find the nodes on the periphery of a network to often contain the most unique opinions. Getting to these special nodes requires a source from which the network can expand. A steady stream of fresh links from, Twitter and Flipboard help to reveal new sources serendipitously. As new sources are uncovered, new networks are outlined leading to the discovery of new special nodes. The cream of the crop are saved to Reeder or Twitter and help regenerate the cycle over.

I mark nearly everything of interest to read later. After taking all the RIL services for a spin, I’ve finally settled on Readability. It’s the most aesthetically pleasing and I love its “longform picks” option. Kicking back on the deck with my iPad, a Beer and a hefty Readability queue has to be the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
The iOS Kindle App is my eBook reader of choice. Amazon simply has a better selection than iBooks and I could do with giving someone other than Apple a buck or two now and again. Printed books are a rarity in my apartment now. Most of what remains from a downsizing exercise are books that depend on the printed medium for experiential purposes, such as graphic design, art or photography.

Two things happen when I favourite articles in Readability. An IFTTT recipe imports my Readability favourites to Evernote for future reference. I use Evernote extensively for strategy work and find reading relevant saved articles down the road can at times provide just as much insight and direction on a subject as research papers. Select Readability favourites also find their way into my Readlists collection so others can enjoy some of what I find interesting.

Throughout this process, any links worthy of a bookmark are saved to my Pinboard.

What type of digital reading methods have worked best for you?

1 Comment

  1. Hey Brandon, really enjoyed this post. I’m always curious as to how others manage and digest online information/reads. Some of the apps you listed are new to me, so definitely going to check them out, thanks.

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