Purging my Pocket

The burden of never completed reading lists, and the products that enable them.


Before writing this I had 412 items in my Pocket list. A tiny handful of them I’d actually read. A few just misplaced bookmarks. The remaining? Literally hours and hours worth of neglected reading material.

I signed up for Pocket late in 2012, soon after it changed from Read it Later. Long after I had iPad apps that delivered RSS feeds in quaint little faux newspapers, and Pulse was ruined for me by LinkedIn — Pocket looked like it had finally solved my reading list problem.

It was simple to use, elegantly designed, and had feature parity with everything else. I think what swung it for me was the cleverness of the brand. “When you find something you want to view later, put it in Pocket.” I loved it. With my new iPad accompanying me on an hour commute each way to work, it was also the first app I installed that actually did anything useful. The promise of a simple way to manage my reading list.

Fast forward 4 years, and the problem is I still can’t manage my reading list. A problem that’s not with Pocket at all really. It’s with me, and my terrible link hoarding talents. It’s with my private delusion that just by saving something to read later, I am somehow closer to having read it. Closer to being well informed. Closer to knowing who the latest whoever is.

The problem that is with Pocket though, is the same problem with every read it later service. Their primary focus is optimising the speed of adding links, so they can surface links similar to that one I’ve saved. None of them have ever focussed on the retrieval side, and obviously couldn’t care less I’m not making any progress on my reading list. Saved a link in Pocket? Here, have an email that contains similar articles. Saved 412 links in Pocket? Here, have an email that contains similar articles.

So inevitably, I’ve arrived at this point of defeat in my reading list. I have hours and hours of articles I’m never going to get to, and piling on more daily. I have this overwhelming amount of reading obligations nagging away at me, making me feel bad for ignoring them. So I’ve decided to close my account.

In fear that one of these is so valuable I might regret not reading it forever (a classic symptom of pathological hoarding), I decided to have one final glance through my list. Half of the articles were already dated, expired either in meaning or content. Half were just repetitions of the same article said a slightly different way, presumably because I never got round to reading the original. Clearly not loosing much in the purge, but I wish there had been a way to not have added so much crap in the first place. Then I could have spent more time reading things that mattered.

Open Chrome.

Right click extension.

Remove “Save to Pocket”?

Confirm.

Zero reading obligations.

Peace.

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