Software, Development, and WordPress

My Day-To-Day: Pocket

As much as I enjoy RSS (and the constant improvements to Feedly), it’s evident that the way in which we are sharing their content is changing.

After all, RSS is primarily meant for syndication, right?

But I think that more we are using social networks to share their content, and then discuss their content more than we once did. Honestly, I’m not really a fan of fragmenting discussions across a variety of networks, but that’s content for another post.

Anyway, as much as I still enjoy using RSS, following links from Twitter, or things shared on other sites and networks, I’ve been a little bit frustrated with the whole experience of trying to keep up with the content I want to read, and then having a solution for going back to reference it.

Using Pocket App

My Pocket Archive

My Pocket Archive

I’ve been using Pocket for several months now, but only until recently did I really start using it on a regular basis.

The Problem of Fragmented Bookmarks

Up until recently, I was collecting content like this:

  • Leaving things unread in RSS (which you know eventually becomes fodder for bankruptcy)
  • Starring things on Twitter to refer to later
  • Flagging certain emails
  • Emailing things to myself
  • …and so on.

What a broken system.

I had even started to work on a small app that would aggregate all of my Twitter favorites into a single list so that I could sign in and read them whenever I had the time (but that’s just really moving the starred tweets into another location – or kicking the can down the road – right?)

Though I had installed Pocket on my phone and my iPad, and though I had the Chrome extension installed, I wasn’t really using it as much as I thought I would.

Sure, I had articles that I had collected, but I wasn’t doing anything with them because it felt like yet-another-place I had collected unread items.

Then I finally went through all of my RSS items, starred tweet, flagged emails, and moved all of the referenced articles into Pocket. Then, I made it a goal to read through everything that I had thrown into Pocket, archive what I really liked, and deleted what I thought was a fun-albeit-one-time read.

A Place For Everything, and Everything in Its Place

While I was going through my list of items to read, a really solid system emerged through which I was not only able to read all of the content that I had not previously had time to read, but I also was able to begin archiving and tagging content to build a digital bookshelf of sorts.

Not only that, I found myself sharing content that I was reading within Pocket to other people because I knew they’d find it interesting (the built-in mail feature is really nice).

This ended up solving a number of problems for me:

  • I now have a central application in which I can store everything that I don’t have time to read at the moment.
  • I can archive the content I really like and that I know I’ll want to re-read or reference in the future.
  • I can share content with others via email who I know will enjoy reading whatever I’m sending.
  • I have a place that I go back through and reference via the web, via my iPad, or via my phone, and I can do so based on tags that I create.

Not bad, in my opinion. On top of that, Pocket just updated to 5.0 which brings with it a solid set of updates that makes storing, reading, and using the app even easier.

This Won’t Work For You

I know – I sound like a Pocket salesmen or as if this a sponsored post. It’s not. I’ve nothing to gain my sharing this. Besides, Pocket is a free app (though I’d gladly pay a subscription to use it!).

The truth is, I’m someone who likes to collect material that I find useful for my job or my hobbies and refer to them over time. Traditional bookmarking used to be the way which we did this, and other services like Delicious used to serve this purpose.

But as new technology has emerged, the way in which we read content matters – it’s not enough just to have a URL – and the way in which we store and share the stuff we’ve read has changed.

Anyway, I’ve gushed enough.

Like the rest of the articles in this series, I don’t know if Pocket will work for you, or not, but I know that I dig it, and it’s really made it easier to consume a lot of the content I find throughout any given week.


  1. Chris

    I have a similar fragmented bookmarking system in place at the moment and its becoming impossible to find all those good things I saved. I’ve been somewhat blind to pocket so will have to look into it. The only thing I wish it had was a dedicated app for mac, I tend to misplace browser windows.

  2. Chris


  3. Werner Siemens

    I think evernote does a better job of this.

    • Tom McFarlin

      I’ve tried Evernote three different times and just can’t seem to get it to fit with my workflow as well.

      No biggie, of course. That’s exactly why we have choices :).

  4. Stanko Metodiev

    I also used bookmarks (and still use), but in some point Chrome become to be too crowded. Then I started to use Pocket in daily basis and I think this is one of the most useful app I have. I think you forgot to mention one of the best part of it – you can use Pocket if you are offline, which is pretty awesome and very useful :)

    • Tom McFarlin

      Agreed – I think the biggest thing to fight is the urge to archive everything (just like there is an urge to bookmark everything).

      Things are great to read once or twice, but we don’t be referring back to everything, you know?

  5. James Mowery

    Hey Tom,

    Interesting that you should mention all this. I am starting up a new personal blog, and I had this type of post drafted as well.

    My setup is as follows:

    —Zite for discovering content (not on my RSS feeds)
    — Feedbin for RSS
    — Pocket for storing things to read later
    — ReadKit to access both Feedbin & Pocket content (Reeder on mobile)
    — Evernote for storing actual articles I want to save long term

    The thing that is missing, at least for me, is a bookmarking service. I have been trying to get Evernote to work like this, but it doesn’t cut it for me.

    I used to really enjoy Delicious, at least before Yahoo bought it and screwed it up.

    Another service I’m looking at is, which does bookmarking and, for a yearly fee of like $25 (if I recall correctly), they will store and archive the contents of the article. So I’m considering evaluating that.

    Either way, it still never feels just right, but this is probably the best setup I’ve had for awhile now.

    • Tom McFarlin

      One site that you may be interested in using for bookmarks is called kippt.

      I used to use it for bookmarks and it was great – they’ve expanded it a lot more from what it once was, so I’m not sure how great it is specifically for bookmarks anymore, but it may be worth checking out.

      The only reason I no longer use it is because I don’t bookmark as many things as I used to – I read things once or twice, then I’m done. If it’s an article that I really want to archive, then it goes into Pocket.

      • James Mowery

        Interesting that you mentioned Kippt. I was actually one of the early users of the service. I tried it for quite awhile, but then I got concerned because it was evident that there was no business model to support the service long term.

        However, looking at it now, it looks like they have a pro option. A tad bit expensive in my opinion based on the feature listing. But I might give it a shot. Thanks for mentioning it!

        P.S. I just remembered that one of my favorite all-time bookmarking tools was Magnolia. It was such a fantastic service, but the creator shut it down after data problems. No business model, which is such a shame because I would have happily paid for the service.

  6. Adam Clark

    Hi Tom,

    Have you used Instapaper? How is Pocket different from that? Just curious, because I’ve been a long time Instapaper user and never really tried Pocket.

    • Tom McFarlin

      I’ve not used Instapaper – just Pocket – so I can’t really speak for the differences in the two.

      I *can* say that I’m a fan of Pocket’s UI, UX, and how it’s integrated with a number of my iPhone apps as well as the Chrome extension for it, as well.

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