Categories
Applications Semantic Web

The curious announcement that Pinboard has acquired Delicious

I’m not sure what to make of the announcement that Pinboard has acquired Delicious.

This is what is going to happen:

If you’re a Pinboard user, nothing will change. Sad!

If you’re a Delicious user, you will have to find another place to save your bookmarks. The site will stay online. but on June 15, I will put Delicious into read-only mode. You won’t be able to save new bookmarks after that date, or use the API.

Users will have an opportunity to migrate their bookmarks to a Pinboard account, which costs $11/year. Those who prefer to bookmark elsewhere will be able to export their data once I fix the export link, which was disabled some months ago for peformance (sic) reasons.

Please note that there is no time pressure for moving off Delicious. You won’t be able to save new bookmarks after June 15, but everything else will continue to work, or break in familiar ways.

As for the ultimate fate of the site, I’ll have more to say about that soon. Delicious has over a billion bookmarks and is a fascinating piece of web history. Even Yahoo, for whom mismanagement is usually effortless, had to work hard to keep Delicious down. I bought it in part so it wouldn’t disappear from the web.

I used Delicious back in the day when it was del.icio.us (or something like that) and it was a great service then. I migrated to Pinboard a few years ago. It works well and I’m happy to pay the annual fee (currently $11 per year) to have a reliable bookmarking service.

Delicious didn’t seem to be going anywhere and if Maciej Ceglowski did, indeed, buy the service to preserve the bookmarks (particularly the public bookmarks) then that is a good thing for the open Web.

The one issue is that those bookmarks probably go back a decade or so and a good number of those bookmarks will point to sites that have since gone offline. It will certainly be interesting to see whether there is some sort of back-up similar to the Wayback Machine or Pinboard’s site backup service (for paid subscribers)?

As an aside and speaking of links … perhaps you could fix your RSS feed for your blog, Mr Ceglowski? The announcement post isn’t showing up on the main blog page or in your blog’s RSS feed. I still use RSS so that sort of thing is helpful.

Image credit: Sanwal Deen

Categories
Applications Semantic Web

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).

Categories
Applications

IFTTT v Pinboard – BFFs again

After a little drama and consternation, it looks like the IFTTT people and the Pinboard person have reached some sort of agreement on the way forward. There aren’t many details but IFTTT sent out an email on Thursday (31 March) which largely apologised for mistakes made, lack of clarity about certain aspects of the new platform and confusion about the terms and conditions.

Hello Pinboard Customers,

We’ve made mistakes over the past few days both in communication and judgment. I’d like to apologize for those mistakes and attempt to explain our intentions. I also pledge to do everything we can to keep Pinboard on IFTTT.

IFTTT gives people confidence that the services they love will work together. There are more services in the world than IFTTT can possibly integrate and maintain alone. We are working on a developer platform that solves this by enabling service owners to build and maintain their integration for the benefit of their customers.

The vast majority of Channels on IFTTT are now built on that developer platform by the services themselves. We made a mistake in asking Pinboard to migrate without fully explaining the benefits of our developer platform. It’s our responsibility to prove that value before asking Pinboard to take ownership of their Channel. We hope to share more on the value of our platform soon.

I also want to address Pinboard’s concerns with our Developer Terms of Service. These terms were specific to our platform while in private beta and were intended to give us the flexibility to evolve our platform in close partnership with early developers. We’ve always planned to update and clarify those terms ahead of opening our platform and we are doing so now. We are specifically changing or removing areas around competing with IFTTT, patents, compatibility and content ownership. The language around content ownership is especially confusing, so I’d like to be very clear on this: as a user of IFTTT you own your content.

I truly appreciate all of your feedback, concerns and patience. Helping services work together is what IFTTT does. We respect and appreciate the open web. This very openness has been instrumental in enabling us to build IFTTT and we fully intend to pay it forward.

Linden Tibbets
CEO, IFTTT

There were certainly mistakes made although I’m not so sure about the other stuff. That said, this is certainly a positive development and Pinboard’s Maciej Cegłowski seems to agree:

It’s not clear how much longer Pinboard will remain connected to IFTTT. I imagine the parties came to some sort of agreement about modifications to IFTTT’s terms and conditions and requirements for integrating Pinboard into the new IFTTT platform. The approach for now seems to be a “wait and see” approach but it’s a step in a better direction.

With all that, we can probably return to our regularly scheduled programming or work and carry on. As for my complaints about Cegłowski’s apparent lack of empathy, his sarcasm is growing on me.

Yup.


If you missed the saga, you can catch up here:

Part 1:

IFTTT v Pinboard

Part 2:

IFTTT v Pinboard Redux – Contracts and Condescension

Image credit: Pixabay

Categories
Applications Semantic Web

IFTTT v Pinboard

Never mind Batman v Superman. Now it’s IFTTT v Pinboard and I’m caught in the cross-fire.

I use Pinboard daily in some form or another. I also use the great “connector” service, IFTTT, daily to automate a host of little tasks like adding Instapaper highlights to a text file in Dropbox and many more.

In particular, I use a number of IFTTT recipes that include Pinboard in various little workflows that make my life easier and now it seems that is going to come to an end in just a week or two. I received this alarming email from IFTTT:

IFTTT v Pinboard

I rushed over to the Pinboard blog to see what Pinboard’s creator, Maciej Cegłowski, has to say about the matter. It turns out, he has quite a bit to say in his blog post titled “My Heroic and Lazy Stand Against IFTTT”. He cited two reasons for this little impasse:

Because many of you rely on IFTTT, and because this email makes it sound like I’m the asshole, I feel I should explain myself.

In a nutshell:

  1. IFTTT wants me to do their job for them for free
  2. They have really squirrely terms of service

It’s entirely IFTTT’s decision to drop support for Pinboard (along with a bunch of other sites). They are the ones who are going to flip the switch on working code on April 4, and they could just as easily flip the switch back on (or even write an IFTTT recipe that does it for them). Weigh their claims about Pinboard being a beloved service accordingly.

I understand his concerns and I agree with him that he shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel at his cost to satisfy IFTTT’s requirements to remain connected to the service. Surely IFTTT could have come up with a more developer-friendly way to migrate to their new platform and help developers make the transition at a lower cost?

I would also have reservations about the contract they want developers to agree to as part of their transition to the new platform. Requiring developers to agree to the sorts of terms Cegłowski quote seems pretty unreasonable given what the clauses would seem to be saying.

At the same time, I’m caught between these two providers I rely on for various tasks. I don’t like the approach IFTTT seems to be taking but I love the service they provide. It literally makes my life easier in so many ways. I have also been using Pinboard for a while now as my personal bookmarking service and I even pay for the archival service. It is a simple and effective service.

This IFTTT v Pinboard impasse between the two companies just hurts people like me who either have to switch to some IFTTT competitor to address the soon-to-be introduced gaps in my workflows or just abandon those workflows altogether. The effect of that is to diminish the value of both services for me, just enough to leave me with that sick, disappointed feeling you get in times like these.

I hope this situation is resolved in some form or another but, if it isn’t … well, that just sucks.

Postscript:

IFTTT v Pinboard Redux – Contracts and Condescension

Categories
Applications Useful stuff

Bookmarking into the void

I was reading a post titled “I’ve Been Using Evernote All Wrong. Here’s Why It’s Actually Amazing” and a comment the article’s author made about the Web Clipper got me thinking about bookmarks:

Because I saved each article with the Web Clipper, I have the entire text of the article and the source link right there, plus any highlights and notes I’ve made in each. This is light years better for me than just pasting the links to each article, or trying to write everything down myself into one giant note. Plus, by creating an entire notebook, each note functions as an item in a to-do list, which makes finishing the project much easier.

This tip isn’t exactly news to anyone familiar with Evernote but it reminded me that although I bookmark stuff fairly frequently in Pinboard, I don’t remember the last time I went back to Pinboard to find something I had bookmarked. It is pretty much a one way flow of information and that isn’t an indictment on Pinboard, it is a commentary on what I think I use Pinboard for and what I actually use it for. It could just as well be Delicious.

I have over 8 000 bookmarks in Pinboard which I have accumulated over the years. A substantial number of them come from Delicious when I used it as my primary bookmarking service and I have several workflows set up in IFTTT to automatically add more links to Pinboard. All that stuff works brilliantly except I have probably gone back to Pinboard to find things 2 or 3 times in the last year.

I capture stuff I want to read later into Instapaper (sometimes Pocket) so I don’t need the “read later” feature in Pinboard. I use the Evernote Web Clipper frequently to capture stuff I find (although the experience of reading in Evernote isn’t even close to Instapaper or Pocket so Evernote is mostly a reference system for me with working notes coming a close second).

On the other hand, I look for stuff in Evernote several times a day so I started thinking I should just use Evernote to bookmark stuff, in addition to capturing just about anything I may want to refer back to later. It is interesting that bookmarking services are going beyond just capturing links and tagging them. Pinboard and read-it-later service, Pocket, both offer premium users an option to capture the content of pages they bookmark and to archive that content for future reference down the line.

It sounds like a good idea, in theory, but I wonder how manageable it will be. The key thing is to be able to import those 8 000+ bookmarks into a specific notebook and not have them run through my Evernote Inbox for later processing because that will never happen! I also have this nagging feeling that adding all these bookmarks would just add way too much clutter to my Evernote notebooks, especially if the import doesn’t include tags and notes from the source Pinboard bookmarks.

I just imported all my bookmarks into Google Bookmarks for good measure, while I decide what to do. As if I’d do nothing in the meantime.

Of course another option is to just use Pinboard more often …