“Read Later” Buttons and Overflowing Buckets

As Google Reader is going to disappear into the sunset, I started thinking about my inboxes and the pressure I feel to empty them.

“Read Later”, “Watch Later”, and other such buttons each create a new bucket. Since the buttons are easy to push, items get thrown in there and accumulate. They accumulate in silence. None of the buckets ever overflows, the container keeps expanding. Nothing seems to happen but unread counts go up and up. And so does pressure.

I currently have 65 items to read in my Instapaper queue, 13 videos to “watch later” on YouTube and six more on other video services. They are articles, talks and documentaries I should watch or read taking notes. They’re unwatched webseries am afraid to get sucked into. All sorts of stuff in there.

Part of me wants to declare some sort of “time-shifting” bankruptcy, delete the queues and never fill them up again. But I am curious, curious about the world we live in, how it changes and why. Too curious to shut down my tireless online explorations. So, I delete the outdated ones, the ones for which the headline makes no more sense, the ones that were irrelevant all along. I read and watch many, tweet them out and sometimes even take notes.

There may be some spring cleaning to do with my inboxes, especially the “Read Later”/“Watch Later” kind…

7 commentaires

  1. Stephanie Booth · mars 17, 2013

    I keep filling up the queues and rarely empty them. Instapaper? hundreds, probably. Every now and again I dig through my buckets, emptying a little here, a little there. I have freed myself of the pressure to empty them… maybe too well.

    I see the same phenomenon with the books I buy and pile up to read. I do read them, but slower than I acquire them. Somebody said once there was this theory that our book-hoarding is actually the expression of our wish or fantasy for a life where we would have time to read them all. I think there is truth to that. When I’m setting aside to “read later”, I am planning for this ideal dream-future where I have all the time in the world to read.

  2. Evren Kiefer · mars 17, 2013

    These online articles and book piles are aspirational. I agree. In the case of online content, it was made clear by this study about Pocket App’s data: “The line between the aspirational and the actual is thick: There’s precious little overlap between the most-saved authors and the authors with the highest return rates.”
    The two lists of authors are fascinating to compare.

  3. Stephanie Booth · mars 17, 2013

    It might also mean that people who read Lifehacker and Gizmodo are big victims of aspirational reading piles — or total procrastinators who never get around to dealing with the stuff they’ve set aside for later.

    The list of authors is interesting to compare, but maybe it says more about the behavioral patterns of those who like to read this or that author rather than the “come backness” of the authors’ writings.

  4. Ping : Tinkering with Evernote, Tumblr, IFTTT, and Pocket | Climb to the Stars
  5. Evren Kiefer · mars 17, 2013

    Thanks, I had not thought of this. Lifehacker’s appeal is very aspirational. Who can implement even a fraction of all their pieces of advice? So, yes. It makes sense that people who save lots of them would fall prey to the aspirational reading list problem.

    Above all, I love the conclusion of the Nieman Lab piece. Megan Garber reads the data and concludes that “Stickiness seems actually to be a function of quality”. It is reassuring.

  6. Stephanie Booth · mars 17, 2013

    T’is the old causation/correlation conundrum. If you see something presented as cause and effect, systematically try and see if it couldn’t be reasoned down to correlation, rather than causation. You’d be surprised how often correlation is mistaken for causation.

  7. Ping : La pile de livres aspirationnelle: se construire un champ des possibles | Climb to the Stars

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