Instapaper & the Kindle

Instapaper is where best intentions go to die.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s a fine service. But its simplicity predestines it to serve as a final resting place for the written word. While the iPhone app is pleasant enough for grouting the quieter moments of my day, reading is still a pokey experience. Instead, I typically succumb to games or email, the weight of words growing heavier until shamefully purged.

So I bought a Kindle.

Some technophiles scoff at single-purpose devices. No features! Get an iPad instead! And yes, the Kindle is a limited beast. A laughable browser. Prehistoric syncing. Awkward interaction design. But the reading experience is generally good, and this is why the Kindle is an interesting device. The e-ink display makes long articles a pleasure to read—which is fortunate, because of course there’s nothing else to do. The Kindle allows no access to the black hole of email, games or social networking, much to its benefit.

That’s not to say I’m entirely sold on the Kindle ecosystem. I’m still unconvinced by the idea of buying books in Kindle format, due to DRM and my reluctance to only license something that I ought to own. For now, my Kindle has found its niche just serving me Instapaper articles. Sure, the integration is hacky, but it comes with an odd curatorial satisfaction, just like loading the iPod in the old days.

With my enforced RSI breaks adding up, I’m devouring upward of twenty articles a day (Dan Saffer’s list of canonical interaction design articles has provided ample food for thought). Between them, the Kindle and Instapaper have exposed me to a host of fresh perspectives—and that’s surely among the highest praise technology can earn.

Cennydd Bowles