The English Department's Blog

Feb 10

In today’s high impact session, Mr Ruff talked about keeping a scrapbook of interesting bits of writing, as a way of preparing for GCSE English exams.  Now I’m the sort of chap who wasn’t allowed to use the proper scissors at school, and generally ended up eating more of the glue than ended up on the paper, so I like digital solutions to these problems.

A good general solution is to use delicious, which allows you to save the url of any website you like, and tag it for finding later.  I make extensive use of it: there’s an excellent Android app, and I use tags such as ‘Arguepersuadeadvise‘ to group different types of article together.

Similar, but aimed more at reading, is the Instapaper service, which allows you to mark articles for reading later on.  All too often we find something interesting online, skim read it, click a few links and then it’s gone, and we can’t be bothered to trawl through our browser history to find it again.  I’ve only just started using this, (in conjunction with the Chrome Amplify extension) but it looks like a great companion to longform, a service where people tweet links to ‘longform’ articles (their twitter – longformorg is a great way to receive the links.)

And lastly, Clipmarks is a great little tool if you’re interested in gathering little nuggets of webpages, rather than the whole thing.  Install the extension into your browser and, when you find text, images or even video that you like, use the button to save and recall bits of text.  A brilliant way to grab new vocabulary or interesting ways of expressing yourself.

One last thing: reading on-screen can be a tiring business.  I recently installed the F.lux application on my home and work computers, which adapts your screen’s brightness to the time of day and lighting conditions (i.e. brighter in the daytime, warmer and darker at night).  It’s worked wonders for reducing eyestrain, and makes working and reading at the computer a totally different experience.

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