When I was younger…

When I was younger, every now and again, my grandmother would cut out an interesting article from a newspaper or magazine, and post it to me. Usually they were about a great feat of British engineering, what with me being a boy and engineering being a good, wholesome, boy activity.

Anyway, it was great, and at the time I didn’t really repay the favour enough. Nowadays, I stumble across things that I’d like to send her, except today it doesn’t involve quickly tearing, folding and stuffing. Instead, it involves docking with USB cables, leaky printer ink and empty paper trays, because most of the stuff I’d like to send her I read online. The energy required to push data into matter always seems a bit much for what is a fleeting thought, and I never manage to do so.

Most of the interesting stuff I’ve read ends up in my delicious feed, which got me thinking. Perhaps someone could build a service that does the following:

And, I’ve probably got most of this working, albeit manually, including the beginnings of a Ruby API for Viapost, and an algorithm for selecting the main content on a page. Unfortunately, the PDF generation stuff uses a piece of software that costs $3800 for the server license, which is a bit of a limiting factor, but I’m sure that someone serious about this will find a better way.

Anyway, this won’t get anyone rich, but it’s easy(ish) to build, and perhaps it could be part of a growing breed of products that bridge the world of analogue and digital natives by playing to each others’ strengths.