by Dean Harris

Instapaper As A Filter

I used to love Instapaper. I filled it chock full of articles that interested me, and truly had the best intentions of reading – eventually – every word I ever placed in there. But it never quite seemed to work that way.

I was reading more, and it was easier than reading on my laptop, but something just wasn’t working. I was barely getting through in a week what I was adding in a day. Finding an article to read was an exercise in overwhelming choice. Eventually something had to give, and one day something in my head snapped. I had come to hate Instapaper.

Not because of the service, and not because of the app, but because of what it represented - good intentions left to rot. It was too easy to add to, too frictionless.

From that point on, it was never the same. I stopped adding articles, I never launched the app on my phone, and I began to pine for a new reading experience. I wanted a Kindle.

Eventually, after much gnashing of teeth and hours of agonising over the decision to spend the whopping sum of $139, Rachel made the decision for me and got me one for Christmas.

Once I found a “Send to Kindle” service I felt comfortable with, I began to fall into old habits. Every article I thought was worth reading was sent to my Kindle1, and although I was reading more of them, I still couldn’t seem to keep up.

I was doing the same thing that had made me stop using Instapaper. I was determined to not let my kindle end up a disused gadget sitting my closet gathering dust. At the same time, I didn’t want to stop giving myself the opportunity to read all of these articles I was adding to it. And then it hit me:

Instapaper as a filter

I would revive my now entirely disused Instapaper account, empty it of rotten good intentions, and filter my reading through Instapaper.

I began to add anything that I wanted to read to Instapaper, and when I came back to my reading list any article that I still fancied reading would be sent to my Kindle.

And it worked. At first it felt clunky - why should I need to go through this just to find things to read? But the more I persevered, the more my effort bore fruit. I was reading more, I was enjoying what I was reading more, and I wasn’t feeling overwhelmed by either then number of articles on my Kindle or the number of articles in my Instapaper account.

There was another benefit too. During the time I spent away from Instapaper Marco added a great feature - the ability to see articles “starred” by others. Provided they had linked their Instapaper and Twitter accounts, I could “follow” them on Instapaper and read what they felt was worthy of a star.

All of a sudden, the awesome people that I follow on Twitter had become a recommended reading engine. And a lot of these people have amazing taste.

And now Instapaper and I have come full circle in our relationship. We started off os great friends, ending up deserting each other, and ended up back where we started.

Instapaper has once again taken its place on my iPhone’s home screen and, although I’m not really using it the Marco intended, it has become an integral part of my day once again.


  1. A possibility I first became aware of on Jorge’s blog.