If you are like me you value the many free news and information sources available on the Internet, but you find all the distractions that come along with a typical ad-supported web site to be obnoxious if not hideous. Many of these web sites look like a Nascar demolition derby, with gaudy ads sprinkled about aimed at distracting your eye from the headline that led you to the site and impossible-for-humans-to-ignore motion that make you forget why you came to the site in the first place. The problem: a hall of carnival barkers with a nugget of embedded information. The solution: Clearly.
Clearly is a Firefox add-on / Chrome extension from the same folks who bring you the ubiquitous and excellent web note taking program Evernote. Clearly strips away all the extraneous matter and leaves you with a simple, clean rendering of the text you wanted in the first place.
To get the overview idea, watch this quick video:
Now consider the following example. (In no way do I mean to impugn the journalism of Mashable by using their web site as an example. Mashable is an excellent tech news source that I use all the time. It is the numerous, distracting ads and overwhelming sense of distraction, a subjective judgement on my part, that I mean to illustrate).
You’ve got Google+, Facebook and Twitter links screaming at you from the top of the page; you’ve got the Old Spice guy beckoning from a huge, moving flash drop-down; you’ve got ads for other posts on Charley Sheen and Facebook Timelines and Life on Mars; you’ve got external ads from Microsoft BizSpark, the 2013 Lincoln MKS; you’ve got hooks from LinkedIn, YouTube, Stumble and the site’s RSS feed, with lots more subscription options; you’ve got content ads from partners like ClickZ, PSFK (showing a couple of apparently fake underwear models in their underwear, Causecast, more Old Spice stuff, more Facebook, more Twitter, more, more, more…
Give me a break.
That’s just what Clearly does. Once you install Clearly as an extension to Chrome or Firefox, you have a little lamp icon next to your search/address bar (the icon looks perilously close to the Pixar icon, but that’s another matter).
Click the Clearly lamp and the page will show only the text and images of the main article, like this:
All the fussiness, motion and clutter gone, just the text and related illustrations are left, easy to read and digest. Clearly loads the text of the article in an overlay, which also contains tools to 1) dismiss the overlay and return to the web site; 2) Clip the article (and just the article) to Evernote, a service I find invaluable; 3) Adjust the text font, size and color; and 4) Print the article (and just the article). Simple and effective, clearly.