The Change-maker Daily, from a Twitter list created by Socialbrite.
And a Q&A with a representative of the new service about what’s ahead
By Jessica Haswell
Do you love Twitter‘s serendipity — the cool way it surfaces links that hit just the right spot — but aren’t too thrilled with the free-for-all jumble of tweets that race past you?
Struggle to find the jewels amid the chaos no more: paper.li is a fresh new take on Twitter that organizes not just the tweets but the content from the links. The free service assembles the heart of the Twitter content you care about into one graphically pleasing magazine-style layout.
This morning the Swiss-based start-up answered a few questions about what’s coming down the road — including a paper.li online newsstand. See below for the Q&A.
Anyone can create a paper.li in under a minute — see below for how to do it. Your paper is updated every 24 hours, making it easy to stay on top of the tweets of the folks you follow. In a word, it offers context. Not only that, but paper.li enables you to reply, retweet, follow, unfollow or favorite through pop-up tabs on the site.
There is currently no other website quite like this, but I’m sure that won’t stay true for long. (For a different example, check out The Twitter Tim.es.) For a nonprofit, business or any organization, this is a fast, easy, terrific promotional tool to educate your followers about your cause or mission. It merges a diverse collection of links about niche subjects into one slick package.
What do you think of paper.li? Please leave a comment below.
How it works: Publish your paper in a hot second
Interested in setting one up? Here are the steps to take:
1) Go to paper.li and click the “Create your own daily paper” button.
2) Sign in to your Twitter or Facebook account to authorize the app’s access to your account.
3) The site creates a paper for you — click the “my paper.li” link. You can also also click “create a newspaper” to add a Twitter user you follow, a #tag (though this doesn’t always work) or a Twitter list.
Shazam! You have a newspaper!
Noted blogger Robert Scoble calls paper.li “a Flipboard for those of us without iPads.” Rita King tells us: “I like paper.li because it’s amazingly accurate in its perception of what will interest me.”
And educator Kathy Gill adds: “I love it because it’s another form of discovery. It’s a great way see what other people thought was important in the prior 24 hour period. It puts an ephemeral Tweetstream into a snapshot that is more than minute here-or-there by letting you look at a stream.”
Here’s how the Causes Daily looks:
Tips on creating your publication
There’s no catch. The service is free, permitting anyone with a Twitter or Facebook account to create up to 10 papers. It’s a creation of SmallRivers, a small start-up in Lausanne, Switzerland, located on the Swiss Institute of Technology EPFL campus. The service rolled out earlier this year in “alpha” (the stage before beta), so expect to see a lot of changes in the coming months. Follow the latest developments on the paper.li blog.
Here are some other things you may want to know:
• The developers wanted to keep things simple, so currently you can’t do any tailoring or fine-tuning of your publication. That is, you can’t decide which tweets or accompanying media to highlight; paper.li uses an algorithm to highlight important or newsworthy content, though how it “guesses” which items to highlight is a bit of a mystery.
• The service pulls some of the tweets you send, but most of the publication’s content comes from the people on Twitter whom you follow — not the people who follow you. For accounts like Socialbrite, which has an open door policy of following back just about any legitimate Twitter user, this makes for a less focused newspaper experience. However, using a Twitter list or #hashtag is an easy way to bring a focused theme to your paper.li. A site like Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop also solves this by creating niche Twitter accounts, posting updates to each — and following nobody. Thus, the Alltop Social Media Daily grabs updates only from @Alltop_Social because Alltop_Social follows no one.
Q&A with one of the site’s developers
Here are some questions we put to the site’s developers. Ed from SmallRivers responded earlier today:
How will readers be able to navigate paper.li newspapers? One can search by keyword, but there’s no directory of papers created.
We are working on a paper.li “newsstand.” You’ll be able to search papers there with many more criteria than only keywords.
Will future releases let publishers customize the display of their papers?
To a certain extent, yes. But we really want to keep it as simple as possible (and that’s THE challenge…).
Will publishers be able to mash up multiple tags, lists or accounts into a single newspaper?
We are working on enabling users to build more targeted papers. Multiple criteria is one of the ways we are currently looking into.
Paper.li is still in development. What are some of the upcoming features you’re planning to include in future releases?
Sorry, we can’t disclose now.
We see this as an easy way for nonprofits to create a pretty cool promotional vehicle for their cause or mission. What benefits does paper.li offer to nonprofits in particular?
It is clearly seen as a good place to show the output of a distributed collaboration. We see many nonprofits promoting new hashtags (specially made for paper.li) and inviting their supporters to contribute. It is also seen as a relevant “resource center” (see World Wildlife Fund‘s WWF Climate Daily).
Will there be a cost for creating newspapers at some point?
Not for the types of papers you can see now. But some advanced features might be premium (small monthly fee).
Papers to check out
Here are some of the papers we like — do a keyword search to explore ones that match your own interests.
Have your own favorites? Please list them in the comments.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.