TABula Rasa in the New Year

"Along Came Pocket."
Along Came Pocket

There comes a time in every person’s life when we experience something so great that we just need to shout about it from the rooftops. We want everyone we meet to know just how lucky we are. And we hope that one day they too will experience it.

That’s how I feel about Pocket.

Seriously though, with the new year upon us, I’ve decided to tell the world about an amazing app that I believe will help anyone who wants to clean up their internet tab situation and begin 2016 with a blank slate: a tabula rasa, you might say.

My Tab Problem

I’m a lifelong learner, a consumer of informative writing, interesting articles, well-crafted fiction, self-improvement pieces, personal essays, and ground-breaking journalism. However, the amount of reading material out there is overwhelming. The internet provides us with an amazing buffet of mostly free writing (whether I agree that it all should be free is a different story). It all sounds so good that I often don’t know where to start. So I open tabs in my browser. Lots of tabs.

I’ve been guilty of having at least 20 tabs open at a time on both my personal laptop and on my work computer (though I’m sure other people have hoarded more than that). I’m always coming across new articles, and my Facebook news feed is constantly flooded with enticing links. So I’d open more tabs. And because no one can possibly read all those articles in one sitting, I’d just leave them up and never turn off my computer. That system update that requires me to restart my computer? I’d been clicking “Remind me in 4 hours” for almost a year.

This vast array of tabs slowed my browser down so much that it was painful to navigate any webpage I was actually using. I’d also have a heart attack whenever my computer randomly shut down (my battery is terrible). Each time that happened, I’d lose everything I was “planning” to read over the next ten years!

Sometimes I tried emailing myself the articles. Sometimes I’d post them on my Facebook wall to read later. Sometimes I bookmarked them. It could have worked in theory, but I often forgot about them the next day, and came across new articles on Facebook. And opened more tabs. Sound familiar?

How Pocket Helped Me

Despite how it sounds, I love being organized. My tab addiction was also my biggest pet peeve. I just wanted a simple way to keep track of my growing reading list without breaking my computer. Then, along came Pocket.

I don’t remember how I came across it (hopefully not by opening yet another tab), but I took to the app instantly. I saved all my pending reading material in my Pocket account, and finally, finally, turned off my computer.

Pocket is an app that allows users to “read it later.” It can be integrated into all browsers and accessed from all devices at pretty much any time—even without the internet. When you access Pocket, the program shows you a running list of all of the articles you’ve saved to it, presented in a clean and organized way. It allows you to create tags as well. For example, my most useful tags are “writing advice,” “about blogging,” and “for Dave” (these are articles I plan to read with my boyfriend). It also lets you archive articles once you’re done reading them so they’re removed from your reading list, but not lost forever.

Here’s how I did it:

  • I downloaded Pocket for free.
  • I added the Pocket extension to my Chrome browser (it’s located at the top right of the browser, next to my Pinterest and Evernote extensions).
  • I also downloaded the Pocket app on my phone and synced my account.
  • Whenever I come across an article I want to read later, I click the Pocket extension button in my browser and it automatically saves the article to my list. Then I close out (yes, actually close out) of the article.
  • If I’m on my phone, I copy the article URL and then open up my Pocket app. It asks me right away if I want to save the copied URL to my list. Of course, I click yes.
  • Over the past few months, I’ve begun tackling my list, article by article. If I have a free moment on my commute, I open up Pocket and read. I’m trying to read about one article per day. When I’m done with one, I just archive it and move on to the next article in my list (though you can read them in any order).
  • At this point my list has grown to include over 100 articles to read. I haven’t been perfect about it, but at least those aren’t all open at once on my computer.
  • Pocket also has a “Recommended” section that suggests articles to read based on the articles saved to your list. Yay knowledge!

I also want to mention that Pocket didn’t ask me to endorse their product. I just love it and had to share it with you. Pocket has helped make my quest for knowledge much more manageable, organized, and convenient. As an aspiring writer myself, I hope that one day something I’ve written ends up saved in a few Pocket accounts. That would mean I’m really starting to make it.

Now, go get Pocket and start closing those tabs. Happy New Year!

Gatsby? What Gatsby?

All Americans, on some level, know about The Great Gatsby. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story of the Roaring Twenties has become a part of modern America’s subconscious. And with Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming film rendition of this literary classic, I think ‘Gatsby’ will become a conscious household name again for this generation.

Check out my mook review (movie + book = mook) on my friend Alyssa’s blog, mookology., where I review F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel and director Jack Clayton’s 1974 film adaptation of it. The review went live yesterday.

Then come back to take a look at some fun Gatsby internet paraphernalia I’ve posted here:

via tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com

I somehow have found myself obsessed with this story, despite not finding it particularly amazing. I mean, I really do love The Great Gatsby, and give it five stars (a very rare thing for me to do these days), but it’s not my number one novel. I think I’m more inspired by the high culture and novelties surrounding this story.

I say high culture because F. Scott Fitzgerald, a graduate of Princeton University, frequently contributed writing to magazines/periodicals, including The New Yorker, Esquire, and The Saturday Evening Post. He was a “Lost Generation” author, the academic world and the upper echelons of literary society take his novels seriously, and he is lauded as one of the greatest American writers of all time.

I say novelties because via the internet, I have come across some very interesting Gatsby themed things (see links below).

via outofprintclothing.com

1. I really love Out of Print Clothing, and love that they have so many Gatsby themed products featuring that iconic blue cover art. It’s my favorite cover art, period (though, Ernest Hemingway, a good friend of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, hated the cover art when he saw it pre-publication). A few months ago I bought a Gatsby t-shirt. You know that’s what I’ll be wearing when I go see the new movie in theaters next month, like a true literary geek.

2. My friend showed me this Gatsby rap tribute called “Daisy’s Lullaby” a couple of years ago, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched it since then. It’s both silly and serious, and has terrific lyrics.  Be warned that it will get stuck in your head. Even after not watching for a long time, I still find it gets stuck in mine.

via mrcoia.com

3. I don’t even know how I came across this one, but who would have thought that an actual Gatsby game exists? Paying tribute to both old Nintendo (NES) games and The Great Gatsby, this online game is adorable and features gold-hat power-ups, drunk flapper enemies doing the Charleston, and annoyingly cute NES inspired music that will also get stuck in your head. Click the “Good Job, Old Sport!” picture above to get to the game.

What do you think about the culture surrounding The Great Gatsby? And have you come across any interesting Gatsby novelties you’d like to share?