YOU hardly need me to tell you that a lot of what is on the internet is manifestly rubbish, and that finding something worth keeping is akin to looking for pearls at the Stew and Oyster Bar. What’s more, gems, when they do appear, are all too easy to lose in the flotsam.
What you need is a pocket to put things in – one from which you can retrieve them in a hurry, no matter where you are.
As it happens, it’s not too big an ask, because Pocket is the name of an app which does exactly that: collect interesting things you find along the way, for quick and convenient retrieval later on. Your collectables can include web addresses, videos, pictures, blog posts and pretty much anything in a web browser.
Your hoard is then saved to a cloud and synchronized automatically across your devices – home and work PCs, phone, tablet and so on – where you can continue to read them even when you’re not online.
To make it easier to add items, Pocket integrates with other apps you may use, like the electronic news magazines Zite and Flipboard, and the Kobo e-book reader. You can also install extensions to popular web browsers for instant saving of pages without the need to navigate away.
Because these are electronic services they are more useful than a real pocket when it comes to finding what you’ve stored. Your collection is displayed in a visually appealing format, and you can add tags to items and search for them in a few different ways – though not too many, as Pocket reserves some of its functionality for paying customers. Five dollars a month buys you permanence: your list stays in the cloud forever. But given the ephemeral nature of online information, this may be akin to throwing money into the wind.
Pocket’s chief rival is Instapaper, an almost identical service (basic model free, premium $3 a month) borne of the principle that if you gather enough articles you can create your own newspaper. Actual newspapers already do this, but the choice of articles is theirs, not yours.
Pocket wins out, though, on its flexibility – especially if you choose to add functionality with third-party extras like ReadRuler which sorts articles by length; Gist, which writes a quick precis of each article. You can also use Pocket’s “Send To…” function to forward items you’d like to keep to an online filing cabinet service like Evernote.