Emptying Our Pockets
If this post finds you, there’s a good chance you use (and love) Pocket, the reader application that’s sort of like Instapaper and Readability, but a little different. I use Pocket all the time. Every screen. Laptop, iPad, iPhone, you name it. Pocket is very important to my workflow because I have to read a lot to keep up, because I want to explicitly select what goes into my Pocket queue, and I want to read things at specific times (not in real-time) so it doesn’t interrupt any work I’m currently doing. This is probably why Pocket, Instapaper, and Readability are doing so well and loved by their users. (There are newer “link-saving sites” I’ve found recently, Kippt and Lookmart.)
Now, as someone who also creates the type of content that would end up in someone’s Pocket, well — wow — it would be great to know that. Of course. But, putting hands into someone’s Pocket is a privacy breach. This is why, in part, people didn’t like Quora “views.” For whatever I write, either here or on TechCrunch, I don’t really care to see how many “shares” or “hits” any piece receives, which is good, because I don’t drive a lot of traffic.
When I hang out with people in person and we talk tech, I always ask what they truly read. I get some common answers, which make sense. Ben Horowitz comes up a lot. The consistency of his blog is incredible. (More on this in another post). Chris Dixon, naturally. He and Fred Wilson are the most consistent. When Paul Graham is on a blogging tear, like he of late, there is no better. Of course, these individuals have knowledge we all don’t have, and when they share, it spreads. For the rest, however, I was surprised how little people read. Sure, they may “like” something or tweet about it, or give some feedback to the author for other reasons, but most of those things aren’t truly read. That’s why I personally never care about the stats around my post, nor try to write to serve anyone.
All this said, I would love to know what’s in others’ reading lists, like Pocket. And, beyond that, to know what they read or what they just deleted. I’d like to know personally, but more importantly, I’d like to know what certain people read. In a way, it’s easier to track this stuff with a paywall, though everyone hates paywalls. So, I don’t know what an answer is here. I’d hope Pocket turns more “social” as it grows, and I suspect it will. I hope I’m able to at least encourage comments on my blog, but mobile is making that hard. I’d love to know what people I admire truly sit down and read, beyond what they share on Twitter, oftentimes which is congratulatory, self-serving, or for their corporate brand. To this end, I’ve created an ifttt recipe to make any Pocket article I save/archive (but not for deleted ones) to auto-tweet from my Twitter account. I call this turning Pockets “Inside/Out
I’ll give you an example. There’s an early-stage founder I know pretty well. He loves to read. He doesn’t tweet much, but he gets links from Twitter. He’s whip smart and someone I have a lot of respect for. I’d love to know what he reads. Not everything, but some picture. Perhaps it’s impossible to know. What do you think?