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Owning My Data

May 7th, 2019 · 2 min read

My online presence went back 10+ years. Last year alone I made 146 new posts on Facebook, 65 tweets on Twitter, 76 photos on Instagram, 1091 check-ins on Swarm, and countless interactions such as “likes” and “favorites”. I knew the exact numbers because I’ve been making a conscious effort to preserve this data, if only to look back and reconstruct my activities in any given day1. Backstalking is fun.

There are online services like Timehop that gives users an easy way to explore their historical digital content, but I prefer to keep my data offline in a portable format like JSON or XML. I’m relying on an app called Momento, which has been under active development since 2011. It connects to more than a dozen social networks, periodically downloads my content there, and presents them in a nice layout2. Data can be exported at any time via iTunes File Sharing, so there’s no lock-in.

I keep the following feeds in Momento:

  • Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Swarm, Medium, Goodreads, Uber: All supported out of the box.
  • Pinboard, Vimeo, Instapaper (Archived and Starred), GitLab, NewsBlur (Saved Stories): Needs manual setup using RSS feed.


Momento’s ability to download RSS feed works extremely well with Pinboard’s filter support: Bookmarks can be filtered by multiple tags, with a secret RSS feed URL to subscribe to. I use IFTTT recipes to automatically send URLs from sources without RSS support to Pinboard, which in turn are pulled into Momento for safe keeping:

  • Liked tweets on Twitter
  • Liked videos on YouTube

IFTTT and Pinboard

One significant downside of Momento is its iPhone-only nature. In the past, I used on the Mac to download my digital content but stopped doing so as they pivoted and changed their business model for the second time: from paid upfront to freemium with subscription, then to free with some asterisks. I have yet to find a replacement for that.

  1. I’d recommend Photo Flashback if you’re looking for an On This Day app for just your camera roll. 

  2. Momento is positioned as a diary/journal app, yet I find this main feature to be way inferior than dedicated apps like Day One. Automatically collecting my daily activities from different sources makes it a hidden gem in my app collection.