Giving Twitter a Classy Edge with Paper.li

August 29, 2010

I often get in discussions with people who have a lot of trouble grasping the “point”, or usefulness of Twitter as a social media tool. I too struggled with the concept of Twitter for a long time, finding the format irritating and muddled, a hodgepodge of often useless information about the private daily details of extended acquaintances.

Paper.li allows you to de-clutter the basic Twitter feed by creating customized online newspapers of articles and media topics of your choosing that are posted on Twitter. The strategy is simple; log in with your Twitter information, and create a newspaper from either a Twitter user and those who follow them, a #Hashtag, or an @List. Within seconds paper.li creates a beautifully formatted online newspaper for you to read at your convenience. They are clean, airy and allow you to browse the topics and information before delving into them.

Gigaom had a great summary of the useful implication of Paper.li:

“In many ways, this is a natural extension of the idea that if the news is important “it will find me.” In other words, if something is important or interesting, it will eventually make its way to you through your social network, by being shared on Twitter or Facebook or some other service. This is an almost complete inversion of the way media traditionally works, where editors decide what is important, then publish it for readers. In that sense, it’s “demand” media rather than “supply” media, or pull rather than push.”

It is incredibly simple to share your creations by linking back to Twitter (or Facebook). You also can get notified via email when a new edition of your paper is created.

I particularly like how it ties topics together to give you a much fuller range of topics. For example, my hashtag newspaper #Media shown above gave me suggested other topics and articles that related to media, and gave me ideas on how to create my other 9 newspapers allotted at one time.

While this is not the first service like this, I have to agree that this is by far the most user-friendly and classy designs to date. Though it is still in alpha, I have yet to stumble upon any serious problems. Paper.li was developed by SmallRivers in Lausanne, Switzerland. They state on their site:

Any Twitter user is thus a kind of editor-in-chief, with the people they follow being trusted journalists. The sum of what is shared by them is thus a unique perspective of what is deemed of interest on the web on any given day. A bit like a newspaper.

This concept especially peaks my interest, addressing a broader issue of print vs. online media. I’m curious to follow the development of Paper.li and see if it leads to a larger concept able to address the divide between print news and social media. While it may not seem like much more than a productivity tool at the moment, I believe it offers some greater opportunities for creative solutions.

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One Response to “Giving Twitter a Classy Edge with Paper.li”

  1. Barbara Vance said

    This is an interesting post, and I like how you give it somewhere to go. You end with ideas that give the reader something to mull over, a direction to take it. Nice.

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