Everyone from The Onion to Thought Catalog has addressed the scourge of an unread stack of magazines, and a group of four anonymous New Yorker fans this summer even started a newsletter summarising the best of each issue.
Now The New Yorker itself is experimenting with a way to help readers finish its stories online. Last week, the magazine debuted a new widget on its website that tries to anticipate when a reader is about to close out of a story and pops up asking if the reader wants an emailed reminder to come back to the spot where they were left off. So if, for some unthinkable reason, you get distracted only 22,000 words into John McPhee’s 28,000 words on the Atchafalaya River, you can start again there later.
The remind-to-read tool was developed by New Yorker senior software engineer Leonard Bogdonoff, who began working on it as a personal project outside of work. He plans to make the code behind it open source.
Bogdonoff began thinking about the glut of content produced online every day, and how easy it is for readers to save articles to Instapaper or Pocket and forget about them — or to just be overwhelmed by the continuous stream of posts on social media.
“I wanted to play with this aspect that people knew what they wanted, but the current mechanics don’t allow for people to actually engage with stuff that they know they want,” he said.
The widget is only available on The New Yorker’s desktop site, and it pops up on stories after a reader stops scrolling down through a story and begins scrolling back up. The developers thought that this was a signal that people were getting ready to leave the story.
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