Have Your Media Come to You

Manually checking all of your favorite news sources is a habit of the past; you can now have all of your media delivered to you. With modern web services, you no longer need to periodically check your social network pages, favorite blogs, or newspapers and magazines to find only a few articles that are of interest to you. With keywords, automation, and sorting, you can have all of the articles you care about sorted for you and delivered to your viewing platform of choice. How do you do this? Well, read on!

Pocket and Instapaper

If you’ve searched through an app store for even a short amount of time, you’ve probably heard of one of these apps. Basically, it allows you to save articles for later viewing using bookmarklets on your computer or mobile browser. However, these services become incredibly powerful when you combine them with an API or external service to automate the process. This will be discussed later, but in the meantime if you see an article anywhere on the web (or even here on DevToMe!) and you want to read it later, you can use the bookmarklets provided by the service of your choice and with one click of the mouse, have it downloaded onto your phone or tablet. Amazing, right? These apps are extremely helpful because they support offline reading, which means when an article is added it will optimize the site into an easy to read format and download it locally onto your device. You can even program these apps to download your articles only on WiFi and by the time you wake up, so you can bring them to school or on the bus without using expensive, expensive bandwidth.

IFTTT Automation

IFTTT is a service that will probably change the way you use the computer. Even if you don’t use it for passive media consumption, I guarantee you will find multiple other uses for it. There are some suggested “recipes” of automation on the front page, but some of the most popular are:

  • Save all articles from my Instapaper account into my Google Drive
  • Change my Facebook picture when I update my Instagram feed
  • Post all new songs from my Soundcloud to my Twitter Page

However the ones we will focus on are the RSS channel, Twitter Channel, Facebook Channel, Instapaper Channel, and Pocket Channel. Channels are IFTTT’s way of reading and transferring media, and can be configured to your account by clicking on “Channels” at the top of the page. I suggest linking all of the accounts you can, since you’ll be able to get more things to read. Now comes the customization and automation. What sources of media do you want to see? Let’s say you follow 2 RSS feeds, 4 Facebook Pages, a Twitter account, and an Instagram user. However, you only want to see iPhone related posts from the RSS feeds, posts about bitcoin on Facebook, posts with #BreakingNews from your favorite Twitter feed, and cute cat photos on Instagram. Here are the recipes you’ll need to setup:

  • Send the article to Pocket when ____’s RSS Feed posts with the keyword “iPhone”
  • Send the post to my phone with SMS when _____’s Facebook mentions “bitcoin”
  • Email my work email address when _____’s Twitter mentions #BreakingNews
  • Send the picture to Instapaper when _____ on Instagram mentions #cat

These are all templates, and the site itself is extremely easy to use. Many channels are added per month, and the service is constantly working on improving speed and stability. If you are focused on articles and pictures, I suggest using the Pocket or Instapaper channels to filter out the posts you want and send to your viewing device.

Devices for Viewing

There are many different ways to read your media once you’ve filtered it out, and this is completely personal preference. If you are constantly on your laptop, you can use Instapaper or Pocket to read articles from a website or use a 3rd party program for a better reading experience. If you always have your phone on you, download the Pocket and Instapaper apps and keep them in your dock for quick access to your favorite articles anywhere you go. However, one of the best devices for this is a Kindle or other E-reader device. These devices are smaller than tablets, designed to be taken and used anywhere, and usually feature e-paper screens that simulate paper for reading in any lighting situation. You can equip your Kindle, Nook, or Tablet of choice with the Instapaper app, or use the Amazon Email-to-Kindle service (check out IFTTT for the recipe for this one!) and read all of your sorted, personalized articles on the go in a simplified format with any device. If you use the Instapaper or Pocket apps on multiple devices, it will even sync your articles’ information and delete articles from all devices after you read them or save your place from when you read an article on your iPad and open to the same place on your iPhone.

RSS Feeds

RSS feeds have revolutionized the way blogs can spread their posts by creating a simple to use “API” of sorts that can be picked up and used by any program. RSS feeds are logs of articles on a website or blog that contain metadata and the article itself. These can be used with an RSS reader, such as Feedly, or IFTTT to deliver your media to multiple platforms in many different ways. The nice thing about RSS feeds is that they carry metadata, which is all of the information about an article that isn’t actually IN the article, such as keywords, date published, and author. You can use this data to filter things out with services like IFTTT or Feedly. An example of this would be “Only push articles with the keyword ‘dog’ into my Instapaper account” in order to refine the amount of articles you see. With common newspapers, magazines, and blogs, there are a lot of articles that don’t interest you. For example, I follow the “Lifehacker” blog, but I usually only like their articles about Android, Weekly Downloads, the Lifehacker Podcast, and Mac OS X. Without filtering out the articles I want, I’d still have to scroll through over 20 articles per day to find 1-2 that appeal to me. With filtering and RSS Feeds, I can take out all of the articles that I know I won’t want to read and only see the ones that interest me.

Passive Media Consumption: The Future of Media

Media is evolving every day, and it’s becoming easier and easier to “craft your own news feed” that contains ONLY interesting content. With modern web services, passive media consumption will change the way you use the internet, and digest media altogether!

Computers | Media | Internet

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