Berlin based dotdotdot has been working on a project for the last ten months that could be your personal digital library for all texts regardless where they come from. Read texts from webpages, like blog posts or articles, in a distraction-free format on your iPad, iPhone, or web-based PC. When you import webtexts via our browser, bookmarklet, dotdotdot clears away everything but the content. The long-format text is clean and easy to read.
The essence of this project is being able to read all of your ePub and internet texts in one place. Getting started is rather simple; you have to install the company’s browser based plugin to start harvesting your favorite blogs or importing RSS Feeds via GoogleReader. There is also a strong social element, where you can check out what your Twitter and Facebook friends are reading.
Thomas Schinabeck, the CEO of dotdotdot, told Good e-Reader that “dotdotdot’s innovation lies in its solutions to unite social reading features with as much content as possible without having to host the texts centrally. Users can manage content in their own private archives—that is, decentralized—and yet still enjoy the full functionality of a social reading platform.”
There is lots of competition on the cloud platform that lets you import RSS and ebooks into a singular platform and store all of your notes, highlights, and annotations in the cloud. This allows you to pick up where you left off on any platform, without being tied to a dedicated app. Instapaper and Readability are two of the most popular ones that launched in the last year.
Thomas mentioned the reason why he started developing this project. “We think the whole workflow around digital reading feels broken in a way. We read so much digital texts, on different devices, but most texts are in their ‘own silos,’ your browser, your ebook store, your magazine app, your file folders. It’s quite hard to bring them all together on one place, which would enable you to use the full potential of digital texts.”
He goes on to say, “dotdotdot offers new solutions to an old problem. It’s not that others hadn’t possibly thought of it before, but maybe a lot of services out there see themselves as a content distributor. We see dotdotdot as a tool, as a software as a service. We want to focus on the reading experience and the workflow around digital reading. We want to build something that makes reading even more valuable to us.
“We want to build an independent place for digital reading. To us, a place or a platform that functions like a merchant and makes money by selling content isn’t very independent. There will always be a conflict of interest in trying to provide you the best possible reading experience and the most relevant content on one hand while trying to maximize profits by selling you as much content as possible on the other. dotdotdot is neither publisher nor content distributor. It is a tool, a software as a service, a platform. Contrary to most branches of the book and publishing industry, which have remained focused on content distribution, we believe that filtering content, linking relevant contexts, creating a high-quality reading experience, and engendering an active community around texts are the true added values a reading platform should be able to deliver. And, no, we don’t like ads either.”
He wrapped up the interview saying “dotdotdot started as a kind of a case study and at first we were daunted by all the too’s: too crazy, too ambitious, too megalomaniac of a market, but then too many people said we should do this … so here we go and give it a try. We believe that the best products are made by people who build a product also for themselves… who build a product that matters to them. Reading means a lot us.”
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.