Tag Archives: instapaper

The Liked List, 2018

A few years ago, Instapaper introduced the concept of personal profiles of everything that you liked via the read-it-later service. Which is great, seeing as it’s a public list of reads that I, well, “liked”, but less good is that there’s no context around why I like a particular piece.

Last year, I started a thing where I posted a dozen or so of my favourites out of all the stuff I liked in Instapaper from last year. At the time, I thought it was a good idea to tell you about Instapaper’s profiles — a feature you basically never hear about elsewhere — but this time around, I think it’s a good idea to occasionally share links to thoughtful, insightful pieces that you might not necessarily get from other places. So without too much more preamble, I present to you: The Liked List for 2018. In somewhat reverse chronological order of when I liked it, and excluding extremely popular stuff you’ve probably seen elsewhere, or stuff that I don’t think is noteworthy enough to write about…

  • Away Childish Things
    In late 2018, one of my sources for some of the internet’s more popular content linked to a Harry Potter fanfic. I started reading, and before you know it, I was caught up in a (mostly) post-canon story that seemed believable enough, which is exactly the kind of fanfic I’m into. Not only that, but the story itself was so engrossing that by the time it finished up, I was satisfied, but disappointed, and went looking for more…

  • Time Turned Back
    Which led me to Time Turned Back, the other Harry Potter fanfic I found after a bunch of filtering and sorting of Archive of our Own works. I’m not sure I can stomach some of the more explicit fanfics, or stories from alternate universes that don’t line up with the canon, but this one about time travel is believable enough, and is a pretty good story to boot. If it wasn’t for its slight deviations from the canon at the end, it would slot nicely somewhere in-between the fifth and sixth books.

  • Thongs
    Sometimes I read things that inspire me to be a better writer, and this one on the etiquette of the work bathroom is one of those pieces. It’s very well written, even if I’m slightly too daft to understand the implication at the end.

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The Liked List

I’m trying out a new thing this year. It’s called the Liked List, and it’s a bunch of links to stuff I liked in Instapaper from the last year.

Back in 2011, I wrote a piece saying that I do most of my reading in Instapaper. Not that I don’t do any reading on my computer — I read stuff there all the time — but as a rule of thumb, anything that needs more than a couple of minutes to read goes to Instapaper. Putting longer reads into Instapaper means I can get through it in a distraction-free interface in as many bite-sized chunks of my day as I want, or read all the way through something before I turn in for the night. Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I open up something I’ve been putting off reading. Sometimes I get all the way through something, and other times, I get tired and fall asleep pretty quickly after that.

A few years ago, Instapaper introduced a feature where you could follow other Instapaper users to see articles they liked within the app. That’s pretty much the only way to see what someone else is liking within Instapaper, unless they’ve specifically set up their Instapaper likes to go to some other service via Instapaper’s built-in sharing options, or via something like IFTTT.

Instapaper also has public profiles of someone’s liked items (here’s mine), but it’s a feature pretty much no one knows about. Sharing likes between users seems like one of those features that never really took off. Which is a shame, given that it would probably be one of the best ways to discover great reads, whether they be your garden variety hot takes, internet think-pieces, or stuff you would’ve missed otherwise, either because you’re not subscribed to that particular RSS feed, or didn’t see it retweeted on Twitter1.

That leads me to the other thing I don’t like about just following people on Instapaper to see what they like; there’s no context. Why was this particular article interesting to you, and why am I going to find it interesting? I mean, time is precious. If something is going to talk half an hour to read, I’m not going to read half a dozen things on the off chance I’ll like them too2.

Anyway, enough about niche features, you’re here for the list. The Liked List for 2017. In somewhat reverse chronological order of when I liked it, and excluding extremely popular stuff you’ve probably seen elsewhere, or stuff that I don’t think is noteworthy enough to write about…

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Instapaper

I love Instapaper. There, I said it.

I do a fair bit of public transport, and that means lots of time to chill out with tunes and just read. Sometimes I even write, but it’s mostly about reading.

I don’t know when it happened, but about a year or two ago I stopped reading things in the browser. Not just the long-form articles or editorials I occasionally come across, but pretty much everything — shorter news pieces, reviews, basically anything and everything longer than a paragraph or two. I use Google Reader a lot, and nothing there gets read either — only skimmed, and if found to be interesting, sent to Instapaper for later perusal.

I don’t read books as often as I used to (which was sparse to begin with), but I do read my Instapaper list. I’m usually only a week or so behind my unread list — but there are some things in my “serious reading” folder (for long-form stuff) that is years old. With Instapaper, I’m never without anything to read. Now my only problem is running out of battery power when I’m out and about, but that’s a story for another time.

Instapaper isn’t just for reading, though! I also use it as a bit of temporary link storage. Links come in — from Twitter, from interesting websites I don’t want to read right now, from things on the internet which I want to refer to later — and links go out, either when I read items, or get to my Mac and open up all the stuff I’ve Instapaper-ed from Twitter or wherever else.

Remember how I was saying it’s all about the apps? Throughout my experiments with various smartphone platforms over the past month, I found that exactly none had decent Instapaper clients. IOS obviously has the official client, but there’s no such thing for Android or Windows Phone 7 — at least no client that matches the iOS one, anyway.

All the niceties you’ve come to expect from the official client just don’t exist elsewhere. There are a lot of clients that sync with Instapaper, but none that do the job as well. I’m not even talking about things like jumping to the top and then returning to the bottom, I’m talking really basic things, like the reading interface itself. Typography, style, layout — all of these things matter. If you’re an app developer, it’s great that you’re making an Instapaper client for something other than iOS, but make sure your app is good for reading; if your app isn’t usable for reading, it probably isn’t suitable for Instapaper.

This post part of Blogtober 2011, just a little thing of mine where I (attempt to) post something up on my blog every day in October 2011.

More on Geeks…

Sure, some geeks eventually make something of themselves with knowledge and passions, but many can never overcome their social problems enough to succeed in any field. Many, while they may like geeky things with associated careers (e.g. programming, math, science), aren’t actually very good at them.

via Marco.org – What that they don’t understand, maybe, is that….

From the maker of the damn excellent iPhone app/utility Instapaper, comes an equally excellent blog post on what geeks are.

It’s really good.