Reading Long-Form Web Articles By Printing Them First

This tweet by Mike Lee Williams started something:

I look at a lot of articles on the web. And by look at” I mean skim distractedly without actually reading”. What happens is that I click a link and sort of scan the article until becoming distracted or interrupted by something else on the screen. I waste a lot of time this way, with little gain.

Mike’s approach to reading articles makes sense to me, so I’ve adopted a similar process and it’s working well.

I no longer try to read longer-form articles right away. I instead send them to Instapaper and, after a day or two, review the inbox, delete the ones I no longer care about, and print the ones I do. For printing, I use Mike’s user stylesheet for Firefox reader mode. The print layout is compact and readable and I can mark them up with a pencil and highlighter while away from the distractions of a screen.

A few recent articles waiting for reviewA few recent articles waiting for review

I keep recent articles scattered around my desk until I feel I’ve gotten what I need out of them. I then scan the marked up versions into DEVONthink and manually enter the highlights from the most important articles into Roam.

This print-first process is a good way for me to actually learn from things I find on the web.