If you’re like me, you’re faced with a barrage of web links coming at you from all directions throughout your work day, be it the RSS reader, email or the twitter stream. It’s really easy to get distracted.
As much as I try to resist, I do end up spending a good amount of time browsing around. Most things I can quickly dismiss but sometimes I do find something of interest and wish to set it aside for later viewing. I’ve been using a tag in my del.icio.us account for this but am intrigued by some of the services that are designed for just this purpose. A recent entry into this field is LaterThis which launched last month.
The idea behind these services is to let you quickly mark something you find online, usually with a bookmarklet, and then present these unread items to you later at your own leisure.
We’ve covered a similar service Instapaper in the past and were generally impressed. Our own Aliza Sherman wrote in depth about using Instapaper as a Tickler for story ideas which is largely what I need as well. At the time, a concern of hers was that the lists might get overwhelming and being able to categorize the items would be a useful feature.
LaterThis seems to have listened. It is quite similar to Instapaper on the surface but with the added ability to tag items upon creation as well as greater display options to view your saved items. You can view by tag, star a favorite item and view saved items by timeframe.
Overall I find LaterThis very easy to use, but these additional features add a level of complexity to the application that is missing from Instapaper. Adding to Instapaper is a one click process while adding an item to LaterThis adds an extra step for tagging and comments. This step is thought, and that thought is time and further distraction. Really, it turns a simple bookmark tool into more of a bookmark manager like del.icio.us or even your native browser system.
I think both apps have their audience and the likely factor that will determine which would be more useful to you is how long you leave your pages unprocessed. If you are really looking for a short term “Hey, look at this later” solution, Instapaper is probably your best bet. Those who might let things linger a bit longer will appreciate the organizational abilities that LaterThis brings to the table.
For me I like the simplicity of Instapaper, preferring to leave the tagging and organization steps to the review phase.
Both services are free, offer handy RSS feeds of your items, and offer ubiquitous iPhone support.
How do you manage your temporary links? Which service best fits your working style?