Read Later

When I wrote about owning the services I use, I neglected to indicate what I used to read articles later. At the time of that writing, I had been an Instapaper user for years. I had bought the Pro version of the app, when there was a both a free and pro version, because I saw the value in what Marco was making. I even supported him when he released a subscription model, even though it was through Paypal. When Marco announced that Instapaper was being sold the Betaworks, I go worried. Not that Betaworks couldn’t run Instapaper, but that a person who is so dedicated to owning every inch of his territory was selling something that has become part of my “workflow”. Yes, he was staying on as an advisor, but the level of “ownership” would probably never be the same, even though they had more people to put to redesigning the web interface and the apps. I was very concerned about where to put my read later articles. I had originally considered Evernote, but it was a service that I didn’t own. I started to save them to Pinboard. I don’t own Pinboard, but I have a sense that Maciej Ceg?owski has the same level of dedication to ownership that Marco did to Instapaper. Plus, I paid for the service, so I can feel better about using it.

When I started using Pinboard as a read later service, I searched for the best mobile app that reformatted the articles to a “readable” state. I tried probably five of them. Each of them had their pros and cons, they each had a URL scheme, so getting links into them (and Pinboard) was easy, so things were humming along.

Things got even better when Nick Wynja started work on Paperback. A web app, and eventually iOS apps, that combined the best of Pinboard’s service, and the Instapaper style reading experience, all with position tracking and syncing. It was perfect. I have been beta testing it for a while and it has been perfect. Nick has been doing some awesome work. Even if I don’t use the service regularly, I will probably support it.

But I don’t own it. I trust Nick, and by extension, I trust Maciej, but if they fold up, I’ll feel like I lost something. It is a weird feeling. I am not so attached to my read later list that if it disappeared I would be heart broken or that I would lose anything (except the words saved), but I would have some friction in my life. And that is what I do not want.

So I have been testing and using quite heavily Poche, an open source alternative to Instapaper. It is self-hosted, written in PHP, and uses SQLite for a database structure, so it is very lightweight and heavily customizable. It is still in very active development and changes that have suggested are being rolled into future versions. Sure, there is no iOS app, but that is not a show stopper for me. There are still some bugs to be worked out, some CSS that needs to be changed to fit my tastes more exactly, but I can say that this is where I am comfortable throwing links.