Technology Untangled: Streamline Web research with the Pocket app

March 9, 2016

technology-bour“Pocket. Read it Later.”

That is the tag line for this popular save-it-for-later service. I recently discovered it as a useful feature that is integrated within my Firefox Web browser. Pocket helps bring some order to the chaos of finding, saving, reading and organizing information you see on the Web.

I discovered Pocket while I was researching technology topics for my column. My typical method while browsing the Web for useful tidbits is to bookmark pages of interest and/or print them and then review them later. I had saved a number of interesting bookmarks on my laptop, but then I didn’t have that list available on my iPad while relaxing with it later that evening. I was forced to get back on the work computer to complete my research.

The Pocket launch button was sitting up on the upper right corner of the Firefox browser, right next to the Bookmark icon. It had been there for a while, but I hadn’t investigated it. I am glad I finally did. Pocket now helps me save and organize articles, websites and videos and have them easily available for viewing later on any of my devices at any time.

focus-techuntangled-pocketplatform-15col.jpg The Pocket app allows users to save and organize articles, websites, and videos and have them easily available for viewing later on any device at any time. (Image courtesy of Pocket/getpocket.com)

You don’t need the Firefox browser to use the service. It also works with other browsers. Additionally, it can be downloaded as a mobile app to your smartphone or tablet. Once you create an account, all your devices will be interconnected.

The main screen you will be working from within Pocket is the “My List” page. When starting, three choices appear: 1. Save an article or video from Recommended; 2. Save something with your browser’s Pocket button; 3. Get Pocket’s mobile app to read offline and save on the go.

I chose “Recommend.” What appeared was a neatly organized grid of links to various stories and articles. It did not strike me as much different from the random, distracting links strewn about the edges and bottoms of the pages I typically browse. Pocket says that their Recommend page shows you the best articles and videos on the Web. (I had to ask myself just who decides what exactly are the best articles and videos on the Web anyhow.) Supposedly, this is generated from a list of articles that are “trending.” You can click and save any of these if you wish.

More useful was the Pocket “Save” button. This allows you to save Web information that is relevant to you. You can then populate the My List page with articles, Web pages and videos that you can sort and make sense of. When clicking on the Pocket button, you are prompted to add a tag to the saved page. This issue-coding feature strikes me as obviously useful when researching particular topics when preparing a case. The tags will allow you to sort and search all the items on your My List page, for example everything you may have tagged as “air bag injuries.”

The saved articles are clipped in a manner akin to clipping and saving newspaper articles in a scrapbook. When you click on an article in your My List page, it opens within the Pocket app, rather than launching you out and directing you back to the original Web page. If you prefer to see the source page, each article includes a link to view that original page.

There is a lot of flexibility in cataloging and organizing your My List by archiving some articles or tagging and “favoriting” others. Pocket then makes it easy to share those finds. This could be useful for collaborating with co-workers and guiding them to relevant articles.

The integration of Pocket with your mobile devices is very useful. Everything you add to your My List from any device can be viewed from the other devices. It makes sense to load up a series of articles on your computer while you are at the office, and then read them later when you have time on your phone or tablet, or vice versa. Your Pocket article/video list stays synched between all of your devices. I often find that if I run across a good article while using my phone, I can save it to Pocket and view it later on the larger screen of my computer.

No Wi-Fi or data connection is needed to view the clipped items in your list. A useful example for that is where you could load and sync a number of articles while waiting for your flight at the airport, then you could read these articles while you are in flight and offline. Note, however, that videos will not play while offline.

The Pocket service has added some welcomed organization and flexibility to my Web browsing. I think you may find it useful, too.

To sign up for pocket on your computer, see https://getpocket.com. To learn more about Pocket go to https://help.getpocket.com. If you already use Firefox, look for the Pocket button next to the bookmark icon on the upper right. For your mobile device, search for Pocket in the App Store or Google Play.•


Stephen Bour (bourtech@iquest.net) is an engineer and legal technology consultant in Indianapolis. His company, the Alliance for Litigation Support Inc., includes Bour Technical Services and Alliance Court Reporting. Areas of service include legal videography, tape analysis, document scanning to CD and courtroom presentation support. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author.


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