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Columbia Journalism Review and Readlists

The Swing States Project

The Columbia Journalism Review covers journalism, the media, and the stories behind the news with great skill and experience. For their Swing States Project, they hired reporters to monitor local political coverage in battleground states during the 2012 US elections. With the election finally over, they’ve packaged up the best of the Darts & Laurels coverage that resulted into a handy readlist.

On their quest to help local press counteract misinformation and the impact of dark money in the election, CJR‘s reporters read and analysed a lot of articles, running the gamut from lackluster to laudable. The articles on either side of the spectrum were singled out as darts and laurels, respectively.

“Taken individually, each dart or laurel clarifies a critical issue that appeared on the campaign trail, and reviews one or two efforts to cover it. But together, they provide a more comprehensive look at the performance of the campaign press through the elections,” said CJR’s Communications Manager, Brendan Fitzgerald, when we caught up with him earlier this week. Compiling them together into a readlist created a free, downloadable anthology readers can export directly to their favorite reading devices.

We recommend you check it out—it’s a fascinating read. And if you’re still pining for more political reads after that, enjoy this readlist by Manik Rathee, a front-end developer who worked on the Obama campaign, about the role of technology in the President’s recent reelection bid.

A Look at Tagging Trends So Far

Late last week we introduced tagging—our most requested feature—to, and users have been busy organizing their reading lists ever since. Over 20,000 tags have already been applied to articles in Readability. We wanted to share a quick look at the data we’re seeing so far.

First up, the top ten most tagged articles on Readability (including their tags):

And here are the top ten tags on Readability overall so far:

  1. politics
  2. design
  3. tech
  4. apple
  5. science
  6. music
  7. business
  8. technology
  9. health
  10. news

As time goes on, we’ll have a lot more data to work with and explore. We’ll be sharing insights and interesting trends we find along the way. In the meantime, keep tagging!

Readability Q&A: Aaron Lammer and Max Linsky of Longform

This post is part of an ongoing series of conversations about the reading experience and the broader possibilities surrounding digital content, publishing, and the future of reading. From time to time we sit down with the brightest folks we know to get their thoughts on those topics and share them with you here. 

Aaron Lammer and Max Linsky are the creative and editorial forces behind Longform, a venture dedicated to collecting and presenting quality long form articles from across the web. In addition to running, they launched a successful iPad app this year, and are a featured content partner inside Readability’s own apps.

We caught up with Aaron and Max earlier this week and asked them a few questions about their work. Continue reading ›

Tagging Comes to Readability

Since day one, Readability users have requested tagging more than any other feature, hands down. And today we’re making it happen.

Content, Meet Tags 

Tagging is now baked into your web-based reading list and saved articles, so you can organize and navigate content the way you want, when you want. Our new tagging functionality sports the kind of fast, intuitive interface you’ve come to expect from Readability.

When you log into Readability on the web you’ll find all your tags displayed in the reading list sidebar, where you can click to instantly filter your reading list or quickly delete tags you’re finished using. We keep things tidy by showing your 10 most-used tags by default, but you can expand it to see your full list. We’ll remember to leave it open when you come back (or log into your account from another computer).

On top of that, we’ve got all the features you’ve come to expect from tagging, including a smart autcomplete based on your existing tags. And yes, spaces and special characters are okay!

We’ll also be rolling out full support for tagging in our API shortly, giving the thousands of developers who’ve already plugged into the Readability platform access to even more powerful tools.

The Best Reading Platform is Growing

Readability’s goal is simple: build the best reading platform anywhere, period. We’re making that happen by building even more tools to help our users read, curate, share, and organize their content, and making our best-in-class parsing engine and API even smarter every single day.

Sign up for your free account and get tagging!

New Grid View for iPad and iPad mini

Today we’re adding a great new viewing option for Top Reads and Longform content on your iPad and iPad mini. It’s called Grid View.

Grid View gives readers a more inviting, visual way to discover new content in Readability, and it’s the perfect complement to our redesigned Top Reads website. So now you have two great new ways to check out the latest snapshot of what the entire Web is reading.

Under the hood, it’s powered by the same smart layout engine our partners at Teehan+Lax built for their own TweetMag app. We’ve taken the best of what they learned and married it to the great content our users are discovering and enjoying with Readability every day.

You can grab the latest version of Readability for iOS, featuring Grid View, in the App Store now.

Embedded Readlists Make a Great Link Blog

Readlists are made to be embeddable, so you can share what you find right from your own site. Rob Boone, who runs the blog Sssimpli, has started using Readlists to present his weekly roundup of the best tech-related writing on the Web. He calls it Sssimpli Links. Sssimpli

“Whatever your preferred method of reading, Readlists accommodates it, so whether you read it via the links or export it to your device, it feels personal, since the reader has made a decision regarding how to absorb the material,” Boone said when we caught up with him earlier this week. Giving readers control over their reading experience is important to Boone. To him, exporting as an ebook is a more personal, immersive experience. “It’s the difference between jamming to a good song on the radio or putting on your headphones, closing your eyes, and losing yourself in the experience of the song.”

In addition to user choice, Boone prefers Readlists for its ease of use. “As a publisher, it’s simply a time-saver. It’s much easier to throw my selected links into Readlists and embed it than to throw together the HTML, or even to put it in Markdown format,” giving him more time to focus on the content.

The result has been a 300% increase in Sssimpli’s traffic since launching the Readlists-driven feature. Sssimpli Links are updated every week. Head on over and check it out—and read them any way you like with the help of Readlists.

Readability Comes to Jolicloud

Today Readability support comes to Jolicloud, letting you browse your saved articles, favorites, and archives right from inside their app using your free Readability account.

For those that don’t know, Jolicloud lets you view and use all your cloud-based services like Facebook, Flickr, Dropbox, and more inside a single, well-designed web app. We’re big fans of the polish and thought the Jolicloud team have put into their product, and are excited to be part of their story. It’s just another example of the great third-party apps, sites, and services that are being built using Readability’s best-in-class API and tools.

Want to try out the Readability API in your app? Sign up for a free account and get started instantly.

Top Reads Tuesday – Spy vs Spy

Every other Tuesday, we highlight content that’s trending on Top Reads, our live snapshot of what’s popular on the Readability platform.

Ben Affleck’s third film, Argo, walks the line between thrilling escape and political intrigue, with some Hollywood critique thrown in for good measure. Best of all, it’s based on a true—and recently declassified—story.

John Goodman, Alan Arkin and Ben Affleck in Argo

© 2012 Warner Bros Pictures

Our friends at Longform recently highlighted a Wired article that came out after the daring affair was made public, and it’s held a spot on Top Reads ever since. Digging deeper into our stats, we spotted plenty of other CIA-related articles that have been trending on the Web. Coincidence? Probably. But just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read these articles.

Here’s more on the real events behind Argo, and other cloak-and-dagger tales from the last two weeks of Top Reads:

  • The Great Escape“, an article originally published in Wired, tells the declassified story that the film Argo is based on.
  • Smithsonian magazine tells us the story of Douglas Groat, a CIA break-in specialist, in “The CIA Burglar Who Went Rogue
  • Vanity Fair profiles Erik Prince, former CIA assassin and the head of Xe (which you may know as Blackwater), in “Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier, Spy
  • In 1977, Carl Bernstein investigated the relationships between the CIA and media, publishing his findings in the Rolling Stone cover story “The CIA and the Media

Want to read through all these articles? We’ve pulled them together into a handy Readlist you can read and highlight on your iPhone, iPad, Kindle, or other ePub-compatible reading device with the click of a button.

We promise it won’t self-destruct.

The Morning News and Readlists

The Morning News is an online magazine that’s been publishing essays filled with wit and insight for over a decade. They’re no strangers to creating and sharing great content on the web, and there’s no shortage of high quality content in their archives just waiting to be discovered and read. In June, they started the TMN Weekender, a new feature powered by Readlists, that helps their readers do just that.

The Morning News

Every Friday, they post the TMN Weekender, a readlist of great stories from their archives that complements the week’s news. They take advantage of Readlists’ great embed functionality, and drop it right into a post on their site. From there readers can click through to those stories, or export the entire readlist as an ebook they can send to their Kindle, iPad, iPhone, or other compatible device. That way they can take it with them, whereever they go—even if it’s just the couch—and read comfortably.

Stay tuned to the front page of The Morning News every Friday to grab the latest TMN Weekender. Or if you’d like to peruse past TMN Weekenders, you can browse their page on Readlists. Either way, you’ll find a lot of awesome things to read and enjoy!

New Developer Tools in Readability for iOS

Readability 1.2.2 for iOS is available now. Along with minor bug fixes, it introduces new developer tools to easily invoke actions from third-party apps. Using one of the options below, you can launch the Readability app and prompt the user to add an article to their reading list.

Option 1: URL Scheme

Readability now includes the readability:// URL scheme, which can launch the app from a browser link or using the UIApplication:openURL: method. Use it without parameters to simply launch the app, or use the following format with a URL string to prompt the user to add an article to their reading list:


Option 2: iOS 6 UIActivity

iOS 6 introduced the “share sheet”—a simple native interface to launch actions. We’ve created a custom UIActivity that you can integrate into your app. Simply import the ReadabilityActivity class and icons to your project and wire it up:

// init Readability activity
ReadabilityActivity *rdb = [[ReadabilityActivity alloc] init];

// set up activity item / action. url is a NSURL
NSArray *activityItems = @[ReadabilityActivityAdd, url];

// init share sheet with app-specific activity
UIActivityViewController *shareSheet = [[UIActivityViewController alloc] initWithActivityItems:activityItems applicationActivities:@[rdb]];

// present the view controller, animated.
[self presentViewController:shareSheet

The ReadabilityActivity class also includes an easy way to check that Readability is installed on a device. This method returns YES if the user is running Readability 1.2.2 or newer:

[ReadabilityActivity canPerformActivity]

A more comfortable developer experience

The Readability API has been integrated by thousands of developers into their projects. Now it’s even easier to add Readability actions to your iOS app. Enjoy!