TL;DR: A new service called tldr.io provides extensions for Firefox and Chrome that allow you to summarise content on the Web. These summaries are then available to other users who have the extensions. This adds value for both the person doing the summarising (comprehension) and the person accessing the summary (speed)/
You’ll have noticed that I’ve been using TL;DR at the top of my posts (like this one) for a while now. It’s something that stands for too long; didn’t read and is a nod to the fact that people don’t tend to read long-form content on computer screens. A few weeks ago I happened across a new service called tldr.io. I think it’s awesome.
The best services solve two problems at the same time. So, for example, Luis von Ahn created reCAPTCHA (prove you’re human / digitise books) and Duolingo (translate articles / learn another language). Tldr.io does something similar. One of the best ways of learning something is to summarise it for someone else. And if you’re in a hurry, having a summarised version of something is extremely valuable.
Once you install the Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome browser extension you’ll see either a red or green button in your address bar:
If it’s red it means that there’s no summary of this page. If it’s green it means that a summary exists. Clicking on the green button reveals that summary. If it’s red then that means you’ve got an opportunity to contribute one and add value! Nice.
The service has an API meaning it can be hooked into websites. Once you’ve installed the extension check out the way, for example, that the tl;dr grey icons appear next to articles on Hacker News – and what happens when you hover over them:
I like services that fulfil a need and have an obvious value proposition both for the creator and consumer! And this seems like something that could align nicely with the Web Literacy standard work we at Mozilla have been undertaking with the community.
If you were still in any doubt, head over to the latest summaries over at tldr.io and then, once you’ve contributed a summary, check out your impact. Wonderful.
Paper hat goes to the first one to summarise this blog post. Although that would be quite meta. 😉
Whilst looking for something entirely different, I came across this post on Lifehacker about advice given by Jerry Seinfeld to an aspiring comic:
He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.
He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”
“Don’t break the chain,” he said again for emphasis.
I’ve realised that this is, in effect, what I’ve been doing with Joe’s Goals:
But now I’ve got a new ally. Lifehacker recommends the Don’t Break The Chain Google Chrome extension – complete with relevant judgements:
Serendipity’s a wonderful thing. It happens to me more often in this interconnected, Web 2.0 world. This morning, for example, whilst searching for something else entirely, I again stumbled across the Stylish plugin for Firefox. Given that I’m now running Firefox 3 full-time now, I thought I’d take it for another spin. Later, a tweet directed me towards Feedly. I’m in awe of both.
Stylish enables you to view a website with custom CSS. Saying it in technical language like that doesn’t make it sound too impressive, does it? But just look at some of the things I was able to do with about two clicks via userstyles.org! 😀
In addition to this, and perhaps more useful (rather than just being eye candy) are those that change small things in your user experience. Take, for example, the one for Twitter that simply changes the list of people in the right sidebar from a small list of photos to photo + name:
I love this sort of thing – users being put in control of their browsing/Internet usage experience. Go and check it out and see if your favourite sites/web apps have been customized yet! 🙂
The second Firefox extension I’m even more excited about. It’s called Feedly (see screenshot above) and I came across it via @derrallg on Twitter:
Feedly is a Firefox extension that, like the Stylish extension, needs to be experienced to be understood. It aggregates not only the RSS feeds in your Google Reader account, but those who are in your Twitter and FriendFeed networks. It calculates which are your ‘favourite’ RSS feeds (presumably from % read stats from Google Reader) and adds extra weight to them. Everything is presented in a very nice magazine-like format on the click of this button:
Here’s how easy it is to share stuff you think those in your network should know about:
I’m seriously considering ditching Google Reader for the majority of my feed reading now. Feedly allows you to annotate and save items for later – and to email the post directly to others or via your Twitter account. Marvellous! :-p
Further reading: Firefox 3 Power User’s Guide (Lifehacker)