To Build a Better Social Reader

For a long time, one of my goals has been to find the perfect offline reading application that I can use to find articles, and queue them up for later reading. For a long time, Instapaper served that purpose, followed soon by Read It Later – now Pocket. I tried Pulse, I tried Currents, but they never quite fit the bill. Pocket has been adequate for some time, and what it does, I feel it does very well. But, it’s not perfect.

It’s not perfect, because the weakness in the chain is me. I have to generally be the monkey in the middle for discovery. I find an article, or see it on G+ or Facebook or Twitter, and I click my ‘read it later‘ button in Chrome. If I don’t pay attention, I get nothing new to read. Maybe the tool I’m looking for exists and I just don’t know about it – I’m talking about something like Digg meets Pocket. Here’s what I’d love to see in a social reading app:

  1. Allow me to identify people who’s reading habits I generally trust, these might be friends, or they could be just industry leaders
  2. Allow me to bias certain categories of content up or down (say someone loves technology and health care – I can specify I trust their technology recommendations, but don’t care about health care)
  3. Create a recommended feed based on a fancy algorithm that accounts for a bunch of cool factors that make sense (who’s sharing, number of times, which categories it covers, have I read stuff at that site before, etc)
  4. Let me selectively pull this content into my reading queue, or flag certain people to just be whitelisted for inserting articles in my queue (the ones I REALLY trust all the time)
  5. When I read something, allow me to flag articles specifically for recommending to people that might follow me
  6. Do everything Pocket already does

Actually, I think Pulse does do most of what’s above, but the UX for it is lousy. Basically I want Pocket, just better.