Word leaked out yesterday that Yahoo has it’s popular Delicious bookmarking service on the chopping block. I don’t personally have an account, not anymore, so the closing won’t affect me. Twitter tells a different story, my stream lit up with people upset about the decision. Yahoo’s leak, coupled with their announcement that the company is laying off 4% of it’s workforce right before Christmas, caused a fairly good sized migration from Delicious to Pinboard. I do have a Pinboard account, and I think I even have a few bookmarks saved, but its been weeks since the last time I visited the site.
There was once a time when I used del.icio.us (as it was once called) extensively, tagging my bookmarks, installing the firefox extension… I had thousands of sites bookmarked. And I never actually visited them. When Yahoo bought del.icio.us, I closed my account and deleted my bookmarks, and I’ve honestly never missed them. For a while afterwards I used a “To Read” bookmark folder in Firefox or Safari, but again, the size of that folder would grow to be unmanageable, and I’d eventually just delete everything in the folder, loosing potentially interesting reading along the way.
Then came Instapaper. My problem with bookmarks was that I did not get around to actually reading the site, and even if I did, my bookmark remained alongside every other bookmark I had. Instapaper provides a simple service to add a site (I have the keyboard shortcut in Safari mapped to ⌘+1), and a beautiful interface on the iPad to actually do the reading. The best part is, when I’m done reading, I tap the trash, select “Archive”, and the article is gone. I don’t have to worry about link rot or managing yet another boatload of data, I just read what interested me and move on.
I believe there is also a psychological reason that Instapaper is so appealing to me. It fits into a “trusted system” type of flow where I know if I send something to Instapaper I will eventually read it. Not true with a bookmarking service. Instapaper’s flow of new content is very similar to how I listen to podcasts; I sync only the unread podcasts to my iPod to listen to on the way to work. In Instapaper, I only ever see the unread articles, so I know that whatever is in my queue is something that is new and that I found interesting enough to save for later.
There are two other types of sites that I come across that I once might have thrown into del.icio.us. There are sites that I want to read every day, which are thrown into NetNewsWire, and there are sites with an amazing article that I absolutely want to maintain access to. In that case, I archive the site in Yojimbo, or I copy the text from Safari’s reader mode and add that into Yojimbo. Either way, Yojimbo becomes my long-term storage mechanism for web content.
I’ve found that Instapaper and Yojimbo fit in much more naturally than bookmarks in my flow of how I deal with web content. I still have a few bookmarks in my browser, like my bank and login pages for various things, but those are relatively static, things that I haven’t changed in years, and access on a regular basis. For everything else, Instapaper is perfect.