Relieve Eye & Finger Strain with Snip.ly

Content creation, sharing and consumption is what the Web is about. But, no doubt about it, the process can get a bit weary-making. To that end, there are tools out there that help speed up the sharing process and others that filter and hone information for easier consumption. Tools like curated.by and Keepstream allow you to pull information out of the gushing onslaught to show the thread or “story.” Tools like Amplify allow you to cull bits of information from around the Web – literally clipped sections from Web pages – and share them via personal stream within the Amplify environment or across the Web via widgets.

Amplify is onto something with its “clip the important part” leanings. Another offering that leverages this same concept, while meeting the needs of both content sharers and consumers, is brand new tool Snip.ly. Snip.ly has a site on which people share “snips” of the Web and bookmarklets and extensions to make the process of snipping and sharing as easy as possible. The idea behind the tool is that people see information flowing past in their Twitter and Facebook streams but opt not to explore simply because reading and processing the articles and media behind the links is too energy-intensive. Instead of sharing a link to the full article or media, Snip.ly allows you to clip the most important piece (in your evaluation) and share just that piece via URL. If a viewer clicks on the link, you are taken to the snip and, if the viewer is interested in finding out more, he or she can click within the snip to go to the full content. The snip becomes the gateway or filter – allowing users to expend less energy getting more information about the information on the other side.

Via Snip.ly’s bookmarklet, you can cull information from pages by simply highlighting the text and selecting your sharing medium, Facebook or Twitter, in the bookmarklet’s window. Like Amplify, you can include your own editorial comment on why the content is cool. When your readers click through to the target article or page, your snip remains visible over the page.

This is interesting, for sure,  for the individual user as well as their ultimate target audience. But the big picture is even cooler – Snip.ly will host these snips that ostensibly represent the coolest stuff out there in the minds of Webizens. Go directly to Snip.ly’s site to browse the stuff that caught others’ eyes. If content discovery is your passion, use the “shuffle” feature to get a random sampling of snips. If all goes according to Snip.ly’s Hoyle, it could become a ranking resource of the Best of the Web. Depending upon the filters and search functionality Snip.ly employs, it could become a decent resource in its own right.

The Advocate's First, Official iPad Post

The Studio, a blog closely affiliated with all things shiny and tech-y, has been strangely silent on the impending approach of the allegedly game-changing and eminently touchable new toy from Apple, the iPad.

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Maybe you noticed. Or not. Maybe you wondered why.  Or not.

Sure enough, it is shiny and cool. It comes from the world’s, number one, tech-toy design company, Apple. I am, admittedly, a fairly well-devoted iPhone fan. So why the silence?

Truth is, I have been silent on the iPad because I have been thinking deeply about it. In order for me to shell out money like that for any type of gadgetry, I have to see a legitimate need that will be filled. Call me a frugal Yankee, but I can’t stomach dismissing hundreds of dollars out of my bank account for no viable reason other than to don an early adopter badge. I also have a fairly rigid rule: no purchasing Version 1.0 of anything – wait until Version 2.0, which hopefully has removed most kinks and installed the next wave of cool features.

As I said, I have been thinking. Wondering, in fact, whether the iPad really fills and important niche between laptop and iPhone for me. Fun is good, but there has to be utility for me to buy. I depend quite heavily on my iPhone and its 3G connection to compute while I am out and about. I also have a capable little netbook that can handle larger typing or more traditional computing tasks and isn’t too hard on my back. Finally, I have a big laptop that sits at home and provides me with a full-on desk-bound experience, sports extra screens, a large mic and a cute little Wacom Bamboo tablet for pen input.

Is there room for the iPad in this set-up? It helps to consider what the iPad is intended to offer. It is meant to serve as a souped-up, content consumption device. Like the iPhone, the iPad will let you access and download apps on the fly. Apps will be designed to take advantage of multi-touch and orientation adjustment, tricks that most eReaders and tablet computers may not be able to fully accommodate. Content, such as photos, eBooks, and documents, promise to show better on the iPad. There is no question that the visuals, particularly on the built-in apps, are vastly improved over the iPad’s diminutive cousin.

The iPad is to include iWork, a productivity suite aimed at encouraging more traditional computing tasks than one might voluntarily undertake on a phone. But the iPad is still hampered by that virtual keyboard, unless you shell out for the accessory. And, like the little guy, there is no multi-tasking, if that feature is important to you. Also, no camera. Do you care? I actually don’t, so much.

Bear in mind, the iPad battery is equally as unremovable as the iPhone battery. That has been a personal problem for me in the past. No GPS means no advanced mapping navigation. While I care some on the first point, I don’t really care much on the second.

And then there is this whole Flash thing. Initially considered a deadly failing, more and more companies are looking for ways around this limitation as the drop date approaches. Big players like the New York Times have switched to iPad-friendly HTML5, employing Brightcove’s platforms, which have been supporting HTML5 since 2008. It won’t take long for the majority of developers to employ means to end-run the Flash limitation. Probably less time than it took to get the App Store up, running and profitable.

But, again, why? Well, what if you stored all of your content in the cloud. Your images, your documents, your music, your videos. What if you could easily access that content via wi-fi or 3G at any time, on demand and from an always on machine with ten hours of battery life and a very readable screen? What if you could quickly pull and notate PDFs and send and receive them with ease? What if the machine was smaller and thinner than a legal pad? Sure it won’t fit in your pocket unless you are a kangaroo, but it definitely could fit a backpack or large purse.

Of course, the iPad’s utility will ultimately depends to a great degree on the premium you personally place on touching your content and viewing it up close and personal. The iPhone’s popularity definitely owes much to the tactile relationship between device and user. I imagine the iPad will take that relationship much further.  The iPad promises to be an iPhone +++ relationship.

Perhaps, the iPad will push us all closer to digital content and turbo-boost us further into digital life. Perhaps the iPad is intended to virtually erase the device’s footprint in that equation. Maybe removing the barrier between content and user is what the iPad really is all about.  I cannot comment personally on whether the iPad or some other touchscreen, tablet-like device is the one to push this change. But I can definitely see it coming. As an avid reader of content, a device scaled to dramatically improve my access and consumption can muscle a place in my arsenal.

Guess I answered my own question. As long as I depend upon on-line content for my work and enjoyment, the iPad may well fit a niche worth the price. More thoughts on this are certain to follow in the Studio, so stay tuned.

By the way, in a Twitter discussion yesterday, a few of us thought that perhaps iPad-related discussions should have their own hashtag. So we christened our tag #followtheipad. Feel free to use this tag and join the conversation with thoughts of your own on the supposed-game changer and confirmed news magnet!