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Keeping Up With Digital

Content Kings It's hard to keep up with the new digital trends- even if you're a technology expert! TwinCities.com and St. Paul Pioneer Press technology writer Julio Ojeda-Zapata tells MSP-C readers about a typical day in his digital-filled life and how quickly trends can change.

I am, and always have been, a voracious reader.

This means something different today, however, than it did decades ago. I’m staggered at how the landscape has changed, and will continue to change, for me and others who love (and live) to read.

Oh, I still love relaxing on the couch with the Sunday papers while taking deep whiffs of the ink to recall my Puerto Rico paperboy days.

I was saddened when Newsweek recently suspended print publication because I adore physical magazines.

I recently tottered out of the St. Paul Public Library with a huge stack of hardcovers when I went on a Joe Haldeman bender, devouring every novel and short story by the science-fiction master.

But, more and more, I’m leaving the printed page behind. It’s too limiting.

Instead, I fire up Google Reader on my computer, smartphone or tablet, and I power through new entries in the Web-content aggregator, which “subscribes” to and organizes the latest from hundreds of my favorite sites and blogs.

I launch Flipboard on my mobile devices and flip through a magazine-like presentation of my various social streams – from Twitter and Facebook to Flickr and Instagram – with information and imagery from all my friends.

Using Amazon’s Kindle apps, I start on an e-book on my home Mac over coffee, pick it up on the bus via my iPhone, continue on my office PC over lunch, and wrap up my day of reading on an iPad in bed. Magically, I never lose my place.

At any point, using my various reading tools, I can redirect some or all of what I’m perusing to a variety of destinations – to a service called Pocket, where I stash personal content I can’t tackle right away; to my Gmail account, which doubles as a filing cabinet for work-related material; and to my social streams, including newer ones like App.net and Google+, to entertain and enlighten my fellow travelers.

This all sounds lovely, yet it is only the beginning. Every day brings innovation.

I used to think I was oversubscribed on Google Reader, for instance. I struggled to keep up. Then came Feedly, a phone and tablet app that reformatted my Google Reader content into a digital magazine for speedier scanning.

Now I feel undersubscribed.

Sharing is a time-consuming struggle given how many social networks I use, but emerging tools are making it easier. The latest is Friends+Me, which lets me share on Google+ and have that information automatically reshared to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

New kinds of reading tools are emerging all the time. Read Quick, an iPad app, displays the text of online articles a word at a time at a pace you set – faster and faster and faster, as you get the hang of it.

If current trends hold, digital-reading tools a few years from now will make the ones in use today seem absurdly slow and primitive – and how we define “reading” may have morphed dramatically yet again.

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Julio Ojeda-Zapata
Julio Ojeda-Zapata is the TwinCities.com and St. Paul Pioneer Press technology writer. He also writes books on occasion. His latest book, "The Mobile Writer," is a guide to the best mobile hardware and software for productivity. Find Julio at ojezap.com.
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