I was first introduced to Instapaper when I noticed it as one of the features of the Twittelator iPod Twitter client. It has since then become an integral part of my internet reading routine.
It’s a very simple concept and yet it serves my need so nicely. I’m on the internet or Twitter and find a link or a resource that looks interesting. However, for one reason or another, it’s not practical to read it in its entirety. For permanency, I do send the best of what I read to Diigo and then on to Delicious. But, that’s only after I’ve previewed it and determined that it’s worth remembering. Or, the other frequent scenario is that I’m reading a message from someone I follow on Twitter or I’m just visiting a webpage on my iPod and need to view it later full screen.
Instapaper to the rescue.
I’ll just send the resource to Instapaper and read it at a more convenient time or location.
The mechanics are pretty easy. In my web browsers, I just have dragged a bookmarklet to my bookmark bar. When I find a website that I want to review later, I just click on it. Inside Twittelater, it’s the same concept. Click the action button and "Add to Instapaper" is one of my options. Great!
Then, when I get a few quiet moments to review things, I log in to Instapaper and I have all this research ready to go. The links are there and I can preview them all in a single sitting. Once visited, they’re archived for good. However, the best of the best are posted to my public bookmark accounts and then scraped to my blog so that I can share them with whoever cares to look.
An additional feature, should I insist on reading a webpage on the iPod, is found in the Instapaper text engine. This engine strips away the eye candy and just leaves the text which is far easier to handle on the portable device.
In the classroom, I think something like Instapaper could be used very effectively in a couple of ways. Create an account (passwords are optional) and quickly bookmark reading for students. Send them to the Instapaper account for a quick subject research tool. Or, on the student end, as they are collecting their resources from all over, use Instapaper as a quick and easy way to store the results of the search. It’s so easy, and with so many students having their own portable devices, it’s the perfect web research scrapboarding tool.
In so many ways, Instapaper is just such a nice holding place.