It’s official: Instapaper has been sold to Betaworks. In addition, the original iPhone has been deemed obsolete by Apple in terms of hardware replacement and support. These two events are not related, really, but they both have a very real effect on me. Funny enough, Instapaper was the first app I bought once I received my hand-me-down iPhone 2G from a friend. I will continue to use the service, pay for it, and love it and I don’t feel anything but happy for Marco Arment, the creator of Instapaper. However, the announcement has made me take pause in the fact that the technology world is changing right in front of my eyes.
The tech world changes all the time, but I suppose I am not normally directly affected by it and it is not as much of a surprise as this was. Instapaper has been humanized to an extent for me; even though I don’t know Marco personally, I listened to podcasts and heard him speak, I reached out to him regarding writing for The Magazine and read his work, and I directly associated him with the application on which I have so come to depend.
I recently wrote about my move to quit using Google Reader and RSS in general, which made the closure of that service seem all the more justified in my mind; I had “called it” and I was happy that I was weened off of RSS before its downfall. But the people who depended on that service had to have felt the way I do about Instapaper, had to have felt betrayed or questioned what they should do now. In that same vein, then, I suppose I worry that Instapaper will change in some way that makes it less valuable to me, or less friendly.
Of course, Instapaper remains in good hands; the aforementioned trust that I have in Marco means that I believe him when he says the service isn’t going anywhere, but I was caught off-guard and my fight or flight reaction now makes me feel ashamed. Similarly, the original iPhone was a piece of technology in which I focused my hopes and dreams for a time. The obsolescence of that piece of technology struck me as an event that shows the end of an era; I mourned the passing of a technological friend.
Over the years, I have said hello and goodbye to many technologies, especially given the fact that I am an early adopter and I will try any service at least once. The changes that are engendered by Instapaper’s sale and the original iPhone’s obsolescence have simply force me to reevaluate my connection to and dependency on these technologies, as well as their ability to affect me in ways that maybe they should not.
Did the Internet community peak at bookmarks? Asked in a different and perhaps more complete way: just as technologies like RSS and email in their purest forms are hard to beat even as technology marches forward, what better technology exists to keep track of information on the ever-expanding Internet than bookmarks? Taken a step further, what better way to share the bookmarked information than a site of your own? As such, I‘ve been reading, which is why I write now.
Working in and having a passion for libraries, I am struck by the fact that the way bookmarks work in the physical world is not directly analogous to bookmarks in the digital world. Bookmarks in the digital world are instead like dog-eared pages or highlighted passages; if you think of the Internet as a single tome, that is. In any case, anything that moves you to deface a book should probably be shared or become immortalized in some other way than just a reference for a future version of yourself.