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by Brian Schrader

Permanence Revisited

Posted on Tue, 12 Aug 2014 at 12:00 AM

Last time I discussed digital permanence I mentioned that there seemed to be no good way of holding on to or archive social media posts or blog articles. This isn't true really, since Instapaper exists (or other competing services I guess). The thing is, Instapaper exists as a fantastic way to save articles, but saving social media posts is something it doesn't do well, sure it can (and I have it set up to do so) but searching them, archiving them, and retrieving them is not something it excels at. Like many others, I've set up a system using IFTTT and Instapaper to save any links I retweet to an Instapaper folder. This is obviously a hack and to be honest, not a great one. Links aren't saved with their title, but the URL (a limit if IFTTT I guess) and Instapaper's archive and search aren't perfect. It works but it screams "incomplete solution".

Really it all comes down to search, now that I think about it. You can have everything in the world saved in some archive folder, but if you can't search for the item you need, that folder is useless. I've retweeted this tweet multiple times, mostly because it's hilarious, but every time I want to do so, even though I have it saved in Instapaper and favorited on Twitter, its easier to google the text of the tweet (as close as I can remember) and let Google do the work.


In no way do I mean to blame Instapaper for this problem. It's far deeper than that. Archiving your collection of articles you liked, tweets you favorited, or posts you liked and providing a way to search for them and export them is a larger problem. I do believe it is one that Instapaper could solve, but not one that they need to.

In the old days, we had bookshelves full of the things we'd read (magazines, books, maps, etc) and we have no way of doing that (permanently and vendor independently in this online and ephemeral world.

* IFTTT can save Favorited and Retweeted links to Instapaper.
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