Read-later Ethics

I deleted Instapaper from my iOS devices and have switched over to Reading List. I did this as a trial to see if I really needed everything Instapaper did for me. But the more I thought about Instapaper and Reading List I thought about how out of all Read Later-type apps, Safari’s Reading List is the most ethical.

I have had internal, ethical struggles with using Instapaper. Instapaper profits through the use of copyrighted material. It removes articles from the context of their home, removing advertising and all the other ways that an author could have made a profit from your reading of their article, and puts it into the reading environment of Instapaper’s paid-app. Oftentimes I’d send a link directly to Instapaper from an app like Twitterrific and never see the originating site.

On the other hand, Reading List keeps you on the website. Reading List merely applies a layer of cleanup and typography on top of it. I think that’s a good compromise between usability and the economy currently used by many websites of selling ads to support themselves.

If we’re going to get all high and mighty about supporting independent app developers, musicians, and others who create on the web, we can do the same with writers and look at an ad every once in a while and give a writer a page view when we read their writing.