Instapaper has been bought by Pinterest. For those of you who reasonably assumed I just spoke French, Instapaper was a read-it-later service that would render plain, easy to read text from bookmarked pages. Pinterest is a social network where people republish other people’s material on specific topics or a criteria of their choosing.
I was reluctant to try Instapaper back in the day, for the same reason I never used Evernote and similar tools. We’re entrusting a one-off, third-party service with a collection of material that
could will eventually be yanked away at the operators whim, either through acquisition, sun-setting, or usually both. The service-specific hooks also render exports more difficult; best–case scenario would be we’d be left with an XML export that doesn’t map to any other service.
(Incidently, I have a ton of exported data from dead services that one day I want to turn into a Hugo or Jekyll blog. I’m thinking of calling it something corny like the Rubénerd Museum. There are enough cancelled services to keep a daily post on a site like this going for years).
Compare this to something agnostic like Dropbox, and a tool that processes text locally. Heck, even something you can install on a server yourself, with a managed version you can pay for instead.
Eventually I paid for it to try, mostly to support Marco Arment who’s late Build and Analyse show with the lovely Dan Benjamin I enjoyed immensely. I was surprised how quickly it became indispensable; it was clean and simple, had integrations with applications I used, and mostly worked. Competitors that arrived later didn’t do anything more to entice me away.
Contrast that to Pinterest. I had an account with them briefly to see if it could support my old idea of the Rubénerd Annexe, before realising it throws up a compulsory registration lightbox over your content ala Stackexchange and Quora.
I’m not entirely concerned with Instapaper being acquired (it has been once already), but their suiter is worrying. I’d be happy to wrong, though.