In theory, Instapaper is genius. In practice, it’s a disaster. At least that’s true for this slow and distracted reader.
Like an overstuffed junk drawer, my Instapaper account is beyond overflowing. If you’d asked me how many articles I’d saved over 10+ years my guess would have been 100 or so. Today I saved an article to, you know, read later, and saw that I have done so no less than 2,107 times.
The oldest article in the list is from more than 10 years ago: “5 Best Columns from the Atlantic Wire” and the most recent is from this morning, “The Novelist Who Saw Middle America as It Really Was”, about Sinclair Lewis.
Along the way I saved articles about Mike Shanahan, John McPhee, Allen Iverson, Lindsey Buckingham and Masayuki Uemura.
And get this! One of the articles I saved was “Read It Later Apps Compared.”
My knee-jerk response was to delete anything I saved longer than 12 months ago, or go with the nuclear option and delete everything. But then I started scrolling through and realized that this unwieldy collection of links is actually kind of a time capsule containing my interests across a decade.
So what am I to do? I’d like to think I’ll stop saving articles but it’s so easy — and free — to file them away why would I stop? It’s not like these are books piling up on my nightstand. Quite the contrary, they are the ultimate example of out of sight, out of mind.
Maybe what I’ll do is use Instapaper to save select articles when I’ve finished reading them. That might actually work. Then it will be a true archive and not a nagging reminder of unkept promises to myself.
In the meantime, I’m turning off that number on the app’s badge. I mean, that’s just piling on.