Here’s a hypothetical tool I’d love to see someone build. The point of access is a bookmarklet you can click on any article page. When you activate it, you receive an overlay of information about the article like:
- How much of the content is rewritten press release based on Churnalism
- How much of the information within the article you’ve already read (and highlight what’s new)
- What your Twitter and Facebook friends have said about the article
- Whether or not the link has been submitted to Reddit, Digg, HN, delicious, and the comment threads associated with each
- Links to related coverage
- # of links within the article
- # of words in the article
- Sources cited in the article (see Nate Silver’s post about NYT citations)
- Display information, like the font-size and line-height (see Steve Yelvington’s post about font size across publications)
And so on. It’s your rich heads-up display to the information you’re consuming.
The service is dual-purpose too. Every article you scrobble is logged, and you can track data points like:
- Most common publications you read
- Most popular authors you read
- Which topics you read
- # of articles you read every month
- # of words you ready every month
On the web application, you could set a “budget” for your information consumption, see areas where you’re lacking and where you’re excelling, and view recommendations for getting up to speed on a subject.
Importantly, the tool shouldn’t be tied to any publication. The New York Times, for instance, could start doing part of this based on passive behavior of logged-in visitors, but it’s probably a narrow scope of the person’s entire consumption.
Bookmarklets are much more user-friendly than browser extensions, and I think services like Instapaper are popularizing them beyond the technorati.