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Scrutinizing My Read-it-later Habit

A few weeks ago, I started talking about my effort to take my minimalistic tendencies and apply them to my digital life. Though I have little more to share on the subject, one bit of metric I thought would be of interest is my read later queue count.

First, a list of things the reader should be aware of:

  • I should note in this process that my "read-it-later habit" is well-documented to mean I mark articles to read later and then promptly never read them.
  • The process to get these "metrics" as I am calling them was simple. I logged into Instapaper, my reading list of choice for many years, visited the settings page and downloaded the HTML file that consists of all articles housed on the service.
  • I took the HTML file and ran it through a rudimentary search tool to identify links that are no longer available (returning anything other than a 200 HTTP response).
    • For those non-technical readers, a 200 response is what happens most times a page loads correctly, a 404 error is the response when "something went wrong", and there are many other responses that HTTP can return. However, all that matters in this situation is: Did the link load properly?
  • There are articles that are not on the downloaded list that were deleted instead of archived for a variety of reasons, though I have to say that number is tiny in comparison to the other numbers listed.
  • The numbers don't align perfectly due to articles that might be duplicates in the list and/or listed in Instapaper folders; these items again don't add up to much of a difference and this isn't exactly a scientific situation.
  • I note "articles" and "links" in the data; these technically represent different things, but are all but interchangeable.

On to the data...

Below is a list of the "metrics" that I think are most interesting.