Please read this later

Dear Marco Arment, tailor of Instapaper.

Acknowledging there’s no chance in h*** you read this, fully aware if you ever do there’s nothing more than a slim chance I have something to say you haven’t already thought of, I still want to give it a shoot. It’s 2012, the world is a small place and you seem to care enough for Instapaper to maybe, just maybe, be interested. If in a hurry, skip the first lengthy paragraph.

From listening to you1 it feels like I should be one of your core customers. Why? I’ve always preferred paying for apps and content (who said «If it’s free, you’re the product»?). I think, like you seem to do, that design runs below the surface of things, and thus form should follow function. And I find your analysis of your corner of the App-market and your willingness to share why you believe in Instapaper while your competition are «exploring different financial models» so enlightening and intriguing, every now and then 3$ leaves my account in some sort of openly declared support-subscription (and you’ve earned them).

Still. I’m one of the few who have migrated from Instapaper to Readitlater. From time to time I re-install Instapaper, just to see how it develops. I want to return, but there’s two things keeping me from doing so, one minor and one (to me) not so minor.

The minor obstacle: Folders vs. tags. Most of the time, things I run through your (or Nat’s VC-funded competition) are things I feel like sorting, but quite often they could fit more than one shelf. So I spraypaint them with tags. Which I realise might just be my preference, not a designfault.

The slightly bigger one: The handling of input from Twitter. My primary source for content to the service is Twitter. When I save things for later reading, I’d like to know who led me to read what. I’d like to keep track of what they said about it and I’d like to be able to get back to them. And give credit if I decide it’s worth re-sharing.

I assume this got to you through a tweet. Try saving this for later reading to Instapaper and get back to me in a week or so. My heart would skip a beat:)

  1. on Planet Money’s brilliant show on the app economy, and more recently on 5BY5s on Competing with Free []
  • Folders vs. tags: This is intentional. Tags are confusing to a lot of people, and folders make sense to everyone. Tags also present a lot of difficult organizational problems, even for advanced users, that folders mostly avoid.

    So I’ve chosen to implement only folders for Instapaper. I know that some people prefer tags, but a lot more of Instapaper’s customers have told me that they like the simpler folder system, so I think I made the right choice. Obviously, that won’t please everyone. If tags are very important to you, you’re probably right to stay with Read It Later.

    On the link-source/credit idea, we agree. That’s on my to-do list.

  • thomas

    My heart just skipped a beat.