Shopping Carts for Content
March 28, 2002

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The "shopping cart" is a ubiquitous metaphor on the web. Everyone understands it (as Jakob will tell you). You browse product pages and when they find something you want to buy, you hit the button that adds the item to their shopping cart. Later when you are done shopping around, you proceed to "Check out" your shopping cart.

Other established tools are "Printer-friendly version of this page" and "Email this page". I get really annoyed at sites that have text content as their bread-and-butter who do not offer these two simple services.

So why hasn't anyone put the two together?


I surf around a site that offers text heavy content such as news or articles, and the pages I am interested in, I save to my virtual "Manila Folder." When I am done surfing for content, I go to a page where I can see a list of all the documents I have saved along the way and have them emailed to me, either as a list of links to the original articles online, or a big text document.

My grandfather used to keep meticulous newspaper clippings in volumes of big black binders. Why shouldn't the New York Times offer an onlines service that mimics this and allow for more user-centric content retrieval?

What would this be called? "My clippings"?


Here are a couple of sites that I have seen that have features similar to what I have described:


Once you have found the recipe you are looking for, as one of the options you can "Save to your recipe box" that you can use to collect recipes. This is great, however there is no way to email all the recipes that you have selected at once. You still need to go back to the recipe page then email it there. It's really nothing more than a convenient location for a collection of favorite URL's.


This is a search engine powered by AskJeeves (used to be Google, alas no more), that provides the option of saving search results through a small menu box that pops up when you mouse over the link (the option is called "put on my list"). This saves the link to a list in another window that you can then email to yourself or make favorites in your browser.

This is a great research tool which vastly improves the experience of researching material on a search engine.

New York Public Library

The closest implementation to what I've described. It allows for selected search results to be saved across multiple search iterations and emailed, in full, brief or "Pro-cite" formats.

The email format is very raw and the fact that if you save more than 12 items, you can't see them is a little annoying.