I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter…

I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter …

Imagine yourself sitting in your favorite easy chair with the Sunday newspaper and a pair of scissors and leafing through the pages, clipping out articles that interest you as you scan each page and laying them aside to be read later. If you can envision that picture, you’ll understand a strategy I’ve begun to use when surfing the Internet.

There are, as I have mentioned before, what are called “Smart Groups” in my copy of Smart Explorer, an Internet Explorer look-alike browser that offers a few special features that I find helpful. Some of these features are also available in other browsers that others prefer, like Opera, but that’s another debate for another time. One of my Smart Groups is called “News.” Using it, I click once and Smart Explorer (SE) opens up six different web sites, each in its own full-screen Window within the browser. The sites in my News Smart Group are: the New York Times front page, the NY Times Op-Ed page, the NY Times “Most Emailed” page, the Washington Post front page, the WP “Most Emailed” page, and the Reuters front page.

So once everything has opened in my News Smart Group, I look through the headlines and brief summaries of the articles (usually the lead line of the article), and if I decide I want to read the article, I hold down the Shift key and left-click on the link to open it. That will cause the article to open in a new browser window. When it is opened, I find the link to “email this article” and click on that and then email the article to myself, making sure that I always choose to send the entire text and the link. Once I’ve “clipped” all the articles that I want to read in all the news sites’ pages, I close my browser and check my email to have it download the things I have emailed myself. I’ve set up a special filter in my email program that automatically puts anything I send myself from one of those sites into its own folder — my reading list folder — where it remains until I can sit down and read it at my leisure.

I’ve found this strategy particularly convenient in the mornings when I want to see what’s in the paper but don’t have much time to read everything that interests me before I have to leave for work. This way, I have the articles in my email box when I can find the time to go through them. This process gives me a way to make sure that at least some of the email I receive comes from someone who shares my interests exactly, a rarity these days and something that the forwarded email I receive often underscores. The other major benefit to me is that I have the articles I have read stored in my mailbox for as long as I like in the event that I should want to refer to them later, as I often do. Reading them while online doesn’t provide that same kind of permanent access.

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