The Price of Your Values

The material value of things does not depend on utility or emotion alone. Our intuition of right or wrong also carries a weight.

If someone robs us and demands a ransom for the stolen object, it’s likely we’ll refuse, preferring to give up on our prized possession.

But if someone brings us that same object, after we’ve lost it, most of us would have the intuition to offer a reward to the person who found it.

The object is the same; it has the same material and emotional value.

What dictated the difference was the price we place on the action of the human being we interacted with.

It is worth asking: are we paying the same attention to the transactions we make on a daily basis?

Are we striving to stay informed about the ethical positions of the companies to whom we buy things?

Painting: “Croesus Showing his Riches to Solon.” by Frans II Francken

The Other Side of the Coin

Because yesterday I indulged in bit of complaining, I decided to follow my own advice today: “If you have time to complain about something, you have time to do something to solve it.” Or at least to take a few steps in the right direction.

So I decided to pick up the reading service with the most robust note system, Instapaper, and look for solutions to improve that functionality.

The service itself has an integration with Evernote that supposedly copies highlights and notes directly to the application, but there are problems:

  1. Evernote is very inconsistent between platforms. The web application, for example, is slow and does not allow for smooth note management.
  2. It does not always work. After activating the integration, I made several notes and highlights that never showed up in my Evernote account.

I ended up with the following solution: I used IFTTT (a free online service that acts as a bridge between several applications) to establish the following rule: whenever I make a note or highlight something in an article in Instapaper, IFTTT sends me an email with the highlight and the note.

From there, it’s a simple matter to copy the content directly to my favorite notes app.

Is this a somewhat contrived system? Yes. Would it be better if Instapaper – or a competing application – let me copy the notes directly? Yes. But doesn’t. It’s better to find a solution, however imperfect, rather than keep complaining.

Painting: “The Wounded Philoctetes” by Nicolai Abildgaard 

There Are No Tools For Reading on the Internet

Incredible as it may sound in a medium that remains heavily textual, reading on the internet is still a third-world experience.

Yes, there are tools to save us from eyestrain. Tools like Instapaper or Pocket or Safari’s reading mode help us organize content, remove the (usually terrible) stylistic choices of websites, and present the articles in a way that’s far more readable.

But that’s just a part of reading, it’s most basic form. To read seriously – to read in order to understand, to assimilate, to learn – we must highlight, note, and cross information. The previous tools only do well the first of these three things; those who grant the ability to make notes do so in an impractical and limited way.

When I read an eBook – whether on Kindle or Apple Books – it’s the simplest thing in the world to email myself a collection of my highlights and notes, to easily browse or copy to a notebook.

Why is it so difficult to do the same for articles on the internet?

Photo Credit: wuestenigel Flickr via Compfight cc

Writer. Podcaster. Marketer. Dental Surgeon. Gamer.