Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Mar 25, 2011
If you’re on Twitter and follow enough people, you’ve probably seen a notification every once in awhile from someone you follow that says something like “The XXXX Daily is out”, followed by a number of Twitter handles. Most of the time if you see it, then you’ll see your Twitter handle in there as well, eventually followed by a link. If you click on that link, you’re taken to your browser to view what looks like a newspaper of sorts, and eventually you’ll see your name and something you tweeted earlier in the day.
All of this is the creation of a company called Paper.li. Its intention is to create a daily newspaper out of Twitter and Facebook feeds that the service deems important based on categories you determine are important to you and deliver information to you based on the people who you follow or are connected to on both Twitter and Facebook.
What you don’t see are “chats”, per se, but the links any of these folks have put up during the day that fit into the types of categories you get to select. For instance, if you click on the image above to enlarge it some, you’ll see that the example I selected, one of my local online friends, starts with headlines, which all Paper.li sites begin with, then breaks down into Business, Arts & Entertainment, Stories, Sports, etc; just like a regular newspaper. The second example below, someone I don’t know, has different interests, so after headlines his goes Health, Education, Business, Leisure, and so on.
Overall it’s a combination of three things; links to blogs, links to news sources, and links to videos. You have the option of having a live Twitter feed showing on your newspaper as well.
Now, why would you want something like this? I’ll tell you after I own up to the reality that I don’t have one of these, and don’t see me doing it any time soon, though it could change in the future. I just wanted to get that out of the way because, though I could see how many people would love something like this.
Here’s the thing. On Twitter, if you have a lot of people you follow, there’s just no way you’re going to see everything that people post during the day; it’s impossible. So, you never know if you’ve missed something that you care about in a category you want to know more about. With Paper.li, you’ll know that you’re capturing news in categories you want to see that has been posted by people you’re following. And you also have the ability to highlight people who you want to follow more closely, to make sure their links show up before the links of people you follow but don’t necessarily care if you miss what they post or not.
What are the downsides? First, it only updates once a day. When it does finally update it will only catch the newest stuff if you follow a lot of people. Therefore, if someone posted a great link at midnight and your newspaper doesn’t post until 8PM, you’re probably going to miss it unless no one else posted something under a category you follow. You might not care all that much, but it’s something to consider.
Second, it determines what’s newsworthy and what’s not, just like Facebook does. Sure, you get to highlight certain people to come up first, but after that it makes all decisions for you. That’s just like regular newspapers, though; you don’t really get to select which news you read, just which section of the newspaper you wish to read.
Third, it could capture some items from people who might not have wanted everything out there for all to see. Now, if those people are savvy they can always follow the link and de-list themselves from being scanned by Paper.li, but they don’t always know about that possibility. This happens if you decide to list someone who otherwise normally has their tweets protected; there’s no way for Paper.li to know.
Of course, you could also decide to post the link to your newspaper on both your Facebook or blog sites for people to follow as well. Truthfully, some people will smile when they get the tweet showing your name as being on their newspaper. If other people follow it they might see your blog posts or links that you’ve shown, and the originator’s name and image is always next to those stories. For my friend, I’ve never shown up on his headlines page, but in checking out his stories page I found a couple of my blog posts and many posts from other people I know.
This isn’t such a bad thing if you’re going to read it. If not, don’t bother setting one up. Statistics show that only 14% or so of people who create these papers visit them more than once a month, which is a shame. I’m thinking the internet doesn’t need more clutter. But if you’re a reader, and you want to see what people you follow are saying that’s been determined to be important, this is a good way to go.