One thing left out of Subscribing to people rather than papers is how I actually read the stuff these people write. This might seem like a small detail, but it impacts how much time I spend reading and how I find new people to follow.

My current process is to have a very limited Feedly that contains only the publications of the people I follow. I read this daily, and it usually takes less than 15 minutes. When I find a new person to follow, I give them a trial run by adding them to my Feedly, and I am ruthless about unfollowing people when they’re not a good fit. 

This process works, but it’s clunky. I have to actively ignore Feedly’s discovery section because it’s a black hole of content. Feedly’s app is not great, especially with poor connectivity. And sometimes the formatting of a blog gets lost in the translation to RSS. Even worse, some publications only publish a snippet of their content in their RSS feed, and make you click through to the website to get everything.

I want a reader for people who are concerned by how much of a distraction their phone is but want to follow and discover interesting people. Here’s how I think it should work:

  • Has a target maximum time per day for reading. Helps the user prune content when they go over time because of too much content.

  • Supports any publication that can be viewed by a link.

  • Shows original websites in a browser view for correct formatting and to avoid the dreaded snippet-only problem

  • Has intentional discovery. When the reading time is much lower than the daily target, insert discovery stories into the feed, clearly marked. The user can then choose to add that author if they want.

  • Makes it easy to annotate and save snippets.

  • Search that works over the existing content and the annotations

I haven’t yet found any app that comes close. If you know of something, please point me to it.