Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Let's Talk About Paper.li

This morning, when I was busying myself with all of my various websites, I logged into Twitter and saw this under my "interactions" tab.

I've gotten these paper.li things before - this one is probably the 3rd or 4th one. And, up until today, I never really questioned them, though I did find it strange that so many people seemed to have their own daily newspaper (because really, who is going to read an entire newspaper run online by a nobody?). I've always just gone to the site, looked for what they used off my blog, and closed out of it. Nothing more.

I did the same exact thing with this paper.li notification that I've done with every other one - I went to the website and searched for what they used from me (usually entries off of this blog). In this case, this person had posted a link I randomly decided to post on Twitter yesterday, which was this old preview of Family History: Part 1.

In the past, most of these Paper.li papers were related to things like writing and self publishing, so I never questioned it.

This one, however, seemed geared towards genealogy.

Let's face it - even though Family History: Part 1 and Part 2 contain something of an extensive genealogy, the book itself is just a work of fiction. And when most of the articles on this particular "paper" seem more related to, say, actual genealogy (and not fictional families), then I started to wonder.

I took a look on Twitter, too - this guy and I were never following each other, nor did we have any similar followers. Suspicious!

So, naturally, I did what any "modern-day sleuth" would do, and I consulted Google. A quick search of just "paper.li" led me to this blog post - "Paper.li: Clever Curation or Spammy Automation" by Adam Toporek.
"The first time I was mentioned in a Paper.Li I didn’t understand what had happened. It showed up in my Mentions stream on Twitter that I and a few others had made “The ____ Daily” and were part of the “Top Stories.” I thought the person who had mentioned me had read something of mine and liked it enough to tweet about it. I promptly thanked him for the tweet, but little did I understand that the gentleman in question most likely had no idea who I was or what I had written."
So, you mean to tell me that I'm not actually special?
"I had been picked up by the automated service Paper.Li." 
Automated, you say? Well then, I guess that answers my first question.
"For those who are not familiar with Paper.Li, it is a content “curation” system that publishes multiple Twitter and Facebook feeds and makes a newspaper of sorts."
To be honest, I'm not quite sure I understand the point, taking stuff written by others and posting it all in a newspaper collage of some sorts, but to each his own, am I right? 
Posting to your Paper.Li whatever happens to be in the #smalllbusiness hashtag stream when the Paper.Li runs is not curation, it’s topical aggregation.
Oh, kind of like how this guy posted my months-old "Family History" preview post to his genealogy paper?

If you want to know more about Paper.li, I recommend not only reading the rest of Toporek's blog post, but also taking a look at the comments: where this particular writer is saying, "No, Paper.li has no value," others disagree and add in their two cents as to why.

Does anybody here have anything to say about Paper.li? If so, feel free to comment on this below - I want to know what other's experience has been with this particular website.


  1. It really depends on how you use it. The author of the other article admits that he doesn't have an account and therefore only has second-hand knowledge of how it works. You can set up a paper to draw content from a single user, or a Twitter list, or RSS feeds--you don't have to use hashtags or keywords at all.

    My paper.li paper, 'Ebook Essentials', gets its content from a Twitter list which only has accounts tweeting ebook news. Every morning, I look at the paper to rearrange or delete articles to highlight important stories and make the paper more aesthetically pleasing.

    I tweet 'Ebook Essentials' every morning (though I don't use Paper.li's default tweets or automatic settings). Even if other people don't read it religiously, it's useful for me to see the big ebooks stories and trends.

    In the end, Paper.li is a tool. Some people are using it ineffectively, but that doesn't mean Paper.li as a whole is useless.

    Obligatory link! http://paper.li/popular_soda/1326218319

    1. Yeah, and I was thinking that I probably should have quoted from others who do like it. I'm just not sure how I feel about the whole idea. But, like that article said (or at least, I believe it was that article), if Paper.li had been around in 1995 or so, it might have gained more traction.

      I did peruse a few other websites about paper.li, and it seems like people either love it or hate it. Personally, it's not something I see myself ever using; however, everybody is different. I think that, if used correctly, Paper.li could be a valuable resource for many.