I am not going to lie to you—the first time I pushed the button at paper.li to create a newspaper out of the links the people I follow on Twitter shared, I felt like I was in the scene in Citizen Kane where Charles Foster Kane finally gets his first edition out. Well, not really—Kane was surrounded by presses and linotype and reporters and editors, and all I had was the company of three barking dogs as I pushed a button on my laptop, but you get my point.
There are thousands of Twitter apps. 99% of them have no value for me. This paper.li app, though, is as transformative of the Twitter experience as my trusy dusty Tweetdeck because it organizes the information in my tweet stream in a way that makes it more easily accessible to me.
Most of the reviews on this app compare this to the Flipboard app for Apple IPad, and feel it comes up short:
paper.li is a respectable, more universal alternative to the iPad's Flipboard, but lacks the latter's Facebook integration and the once-per-day updating is molasses-slow in an era of fast news. As such, it's only good of you only check Twitter once per day, other wise you may want to pass until it presents stories at a faster pace.
but for the 90 plus percent of the public who don’t own an IPad, this a fantastic service. I don’t agree with this particular reviewer that more is better when it comes to the number of daily updates you can generate. The whole idea of a newspaper-like format is to allow a user the time to better digest what is going on in his tweet stream.
I follow some of those bleeding edge early adopters on Twitter who have a yen for politics, so I am used to seeing new apps like Foursquare when they go live. When I started seeing one of them announce their own daily news digest, I was convinced that this twitter buddy got no sleep at all. Nothing could be further from the truth. The hardest thing you have to do is pick a name. paper.li does the rest. The one thing this app does show you, in a pretty graphic fashion, are the sensibilities and interests of the people you follow.
My people are into politics-liberal politics, to be exact. So I get a quick, well presented way to see what they are looking at and recommending to others without having to click a whole lot of individual links.
Now that paper.li has automatically generated my second issue, I can see there are some features Wordle has that might improve the user experience. Wordle is pretty simple—you just insert as much text as you want into the text box and push submit to create your own word cloud. You can also remove common English words from your word cloud, specify a maximum number of words, or change the typeface and color scheme. Paper.li doesn’t need anything fancy. The paper.li developers at SmallRivers could add some similar ways for us to tweak our finished newspaper, along with a method to block those people we follow but aren’t interested in promoting, and this bad boy will be just jake.
The most ironic thing about paper.li is the fact that the main intent of the app is to make customized versions of a Twitter users links to real news articles from newspapers who are steadily losing circulation and revenues to web-based phenoms. All irony aside, this paper.li might just turn out to be my new favorite twitter app (sorry, Tweetdeck).
My next edition hits the web tomorrow at 8 am.