Brian Donahue on Instapaper Fragmentations

It’s an extremely elegant solution to the problem that we wrestled with when implementing highlight sharing in Instapaper: How do we link to a particular piece of text in a webpage?

When we use many web services—when we post pictures to Facebook, send a Snapchat, tweet, Tumbl, or add a file to Dropbox—we often think very little, if any, of the process behind the app. We forget about the questions, the conversations, that ultimately bring a feature to life. Often, these conversations start having very little to do with a feature, per se. In those cases, a feature ends up being merely one interpretation of the initial question.

So it is with the latest Instapaper feature, highlights. It's a fantastic time to be a reader, thanks in very large part to services like Instapaper. The very nature of text and how we consume it is changing. These are the problems that the Instapaper team face, and highlights are just another interpretation of how to proceed.

It's fascinating, then, to look into the process and watch the conversation unfold. Brian Donahue of Betaworks recently took to Medium to do just that: to let us see the questions and the conversation that led to the new highlights feature.

Instapaper Fragmentations