Instapaper sold to Pinterest – at first I was afraid

The news that Instapaper sold to Pinterest shocked me from my early evening domestic routine. At first, it seemed like a mistake. It didn’t even seem like something that could happen but, sure enough, there was a tweet to confirm it:

As I read the blog post, I forced myself to slow down so I wouldn’t miss some vital detail about the fate of my favourite “read it later” app. It was all a bit of a blur, I just couldn’t believe it was happening.

The key paragraph was this one, the rest of the post was mostly filed for later analysis:

For you, the Instapaper end user and customer, nothing changes. The Instapaper team will be moving from betaworks in New York City to Pinterest’s headquarters in San Francisco, and we’ll continue to make Instapaper a great place to save and read articles.

Of course, Pinboard’s Maciej Ceglowski was in typical form with a series of sarcastic tweets about the sale that included a hefty dose of “I told you so” (as you would expect). He made a few good points that concerned me more than a little and prompted me to think more about my investment in Instapaper:

So far, more “I told you so”. And then he raised an issue I hadn’t thought much about:

This next one worried me …

… until someone replied with this:

Abandon ship?

The way the conversation was going, you’d think the Instapaper service was being shut down.

I’ll admit, I jumped to that horrible conclusion. I’ve seen many services that I loved and used just shut down out of the blue or languish after a bad acquisition.

Still, I wasn’t ready to give up just yet.

Instapaper’s CEO, Brian Donohue challenged Ceglowski’s suggestion that Instapaper was in financial dire straits and inspired enough hope to move beyond the panic and start assessing the news more rationally.

Straight and true

Marketing Land published an article that pointed out how this acquisition could actually make a lot of sense. In his article titled “How buying Instapaper could help Pinterest become a media portal like Facebook”, Tim Peterson highlighted the synergies between the two services:

People use Pinterest and Instapaper for similar reasons. The similarity is almost too close for the deal to make sense. Pinterest started out as a way for people to collect content from around the web for themselves and others to check out later. At first, people were mainly saving images, but they’ve also started saving articles, to the point that Pinterest considers that “a core use case.” But saving articles is the same reason people use Instapaper — its “core use case,” if you will. So why would Pinterest buy a company whose product largely duplicates its own?

It’s a fair question and, as Peterson suggests, this could be more about putting two similar services together and using the Instapaper team’s know-how to improve Pinterest. For now, at least, Instapaper doesn’t seem to be at risk of vanishing. According to Peterson:

Instapaper’s service will remain available post-acquisition, and Pinterest has no plans to put ads in Instapaper, according to a Pinterest spokesperson.

Still, so soon after the news I panicked and downloaded Pocket to my iPad. I have an IFTTT recipe running that adds stories I save to Instapaper to my Pocket queue so I wouldn’t lose much if Instapaper inexplicably vanished.

I also created a series of IFTTT recipes that captured my Instapaper notes and highlights into MultiMarkdown-formatted notes after the Great Pinboard Shock of 2016 so I wouldn’t lose too much of that data either.

The big loss, to me, would be the loss of an app that I use daily and really enjoy using. Pocket could be an acceptable replacement (I used Pocket regularly for a while before I decided to switch back to Instapaper). While I’d lose some functionality if I had to switch, switching would be more a matter of installing the various Pocket extensions and apps.

Will Pinterest be a good steward for Instapaper and give the team the tools it needs to keep making Instapaper better? I hope so. Ultimately, if it all goes badly, there are other options. If Pocket doesn’t capture my affection, I could always switch to Evernote even though the reading experience isn’t even close. I’m getting ahead of myself.

For the time being, I don’t need to (or want to) change anything. I pay for my Instapaper subscription for a year at a time and, assuming the service will continue operating as promised, I can keep doing what I’ve been doing (after a quick backup of my links).

Those crazy, early months as a learner Israeli

Bibi Canes is another learner Israeli who arrived in Israel with her family just 3 months ago. She wrote a post about some of her experiences and, reading them, they remind me of much of what we went through a short time ago (and still do, to a degree).

It’s all about that Thyme

I wrote a comment on the post and thought I’d share the comment here too.

It definitely takes a bit of getting used to. I still think of the weekends as being 2 days. Friday feels like my old Saturday although there is usually a lot more cleaning involved before or after we schlep to do the weekend shopping. In a way it is great that the kids are at school on Friday mornings because it means we have a couple hours to do what we need to do, uninterrupted. Sometimes we even get to spend some time together!

We don’t have a car so Saturdays are forced downtime with the family. It’s usually a good break even though there is often a lot of stuff the kids want help with. Still, that part is pretty much the same as back in South Africa except we wound up driving all over when we could have relaxed at home more.

I definitely miss Woolies meat but my genius wife has managed to figure out which local meat is pretty good. My brother-in-law even found relatively cheap meat that tasted great, albeit after cooking for 3 hours. It isn’t the same but I am ok with what we exchanged Woolies meat for – a very different life. We work harder here, usually for less of the material stuff but, on balance, it’s a fair trade for what we gained living here.

You can also follow Bibi on Facebook:

 

Insanity or a new model?

I just read this in Seth Godin’s post titled “Time for a new model?”:

The thing is, when your model doesn’t match reality (when you have trouble predicting how your investments will do, whether a sales call will resonate, whether a presentation will work, whether a new hire will work out) it’s tempting to blame reality.

What is that old adage about insanity and doing the same thing over and over?

Everybody is “I” – life, death and being

I only just discovered Alan Watts and it was through Trey Ratcliff’s video titled “Life From Above, and Beyond, with words from Alan Watts”. Ratcliff’s video includes the audio of a talk Watts gave (I don’t know when) and part of it really touched me and I transcribed it:

Nature abhors a vacuum. So after you are dead the only thing that can happen is the same experience, or the same sort of experience as when you were born. In other words we all know very well that after people die, other people are born. And they’re all you. Only you could only experience it one at a time. Everybody is “I”. You all know you’re you. And wheresoever beings exist throughout all galaxies – it doesn’t make any difference – you are all of them. And when they come into being, that’s you coming into being. You know that very well only you don’t have to remember the past in the same way you don’t have to think about how you work your thyroid gland …. You don’t have to know how to shine the Sun. You just do it. Like you breathe. Doesn’t it really astonish you that you are this fantastically complex thing? And that you are doing all of this and you never had any education in how to do it?

Here is Ratcliff’s video (beautiful aerial footage using quadcopters):

I love this other quote from the Alan Watts website:

The Universe is the game of the self, which plays hide and seek forever and ever

Have a good week.

Image credit: Moeraki Boulders at Sunrise by Trey Ratcliff, licensed [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0]( Some rights reserved)

Trapani, time and transitions

Gina Trapani spoke at the XOXO Festival recently and I finally watched her talk. I’ve followed Trapani for years now and when she mentioned that she spoke at the festival (hadn’t heard of it before) on an episode of This Week in Google, I made a mental note to watch the video.

She talks about 3 significant stories in her life starting with 9/11 and ending with her marriage and daughter’s birth shared online and how her Web app, Thinkup, helps her track her digital activity and be more mindful of how meaningful it is.

Trapani’s talk reminded me of a few things I’ve been thinking about lately and I wrote down a couple things she said in her talk which really appealed to me. I’m going through quite a bit change in my life (along with my family) at the moment and it feels like we’re in between our old life and a new one, in a sort of limbo. For someone not particularly comfortable with transitions (especially not the huge life changes we’re going through at the moment), this is a challenging time for me.

I find myself throwing out loads of old baggage (literally) and, at the same time, holding on to little memories and mementos I’m not quite sure what to do with.

Trapani spoke about how she started documenting everything in her life after 9/11. I capture so much of my life and my family’s life. I capture all those weird art projects our kids bring home (I take photos when they arrive and store them, along with everything else, in Evernote). One of the reasons I am so passionate about my photography is because it is a way for me to document our lives so we have a rich record of it for our future selves and future generations. I’m practically obsessed with scanning documentation and storing it, both for work and just to build that archive of our lives. I even scanned half a dozen Moleskine journals before shredding the originals while we were packing up our home and my office.

In the midst of all of that, I feel a little adrift between our old life when I worked to remain relevant in a changing environment and to support my family and the new life where we will begin again in a new country and where I’m not too sure what I’ll do to earn a living and grow further in the months and years to come. I find these transitions unsettling and difficult to plan for. One of Trapani’s quotes that stood out for me was this one:

Somehow, somewhere your worst moments will power your best work

I don’t see my current challenges as my worst moments by any stretch of my imagination and yet this idea still resonates with me. I’m excited about our new life and I know this limbo will end soon. I also know I can’t remain tethered to our old life if I am going to embrace our new life and create something fresh. Not letting go means that our new life could become a shadow of the old and a missed opportunity to create something better and more meaningful.

I’m still working on that “letting go” bit and figuring out where the balance is between letting go and forgetting.

People prefer being victims too much to make changes

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Isn’t it interesting that people often say they will pay for an ad-free social experience and when the opportunity arises, they don’t. Instead they slip back into familiar comfort and complain another day.

In some cases, people don’t need to pay anything, they just have to decide to try something new and make a change, which they rarely do because their current discomfort is so familiar.

It’s easier to complain because you can play the role of the helpless victim. Being a victim seems to imply a lack of responsibility for your victimhood and an apparent inability to change that, beginning with an uncomfortable decision to do something different.

Two kinds of mistakes

I came across this great quote in Seth Godin’s post titled “Two kinds of mistakes” a year ago. I just noticed it in my notes folder and it really speaks to me:

There is the mistake of overdoing the defense of the status quo, the error of investing too much time and energy in keeping things as they are.

And then there is the mistake made while inventing the future, the error of small experiments gone bad.

We are almost never hurt by the second kind of mistake and yet we persist in making the first kind, again and again.