New Improved Paper.li Lets You Manage Your Papers

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Since setting up a paper.li newspaper earlier this year for Voices For The Library, I’ve been experimenting with it some more.
In case you don’t know, paper.li creates an online newspaper, bringing together links pulled out of tweets or Facebook accounts, based upon searches you set up.
It acts as an aggregator of information, keeps a permanent record of links in a single place that have been tweeted around a particular subject area, or by specific Twitter users. Once aggregated the paper.li newspaper can automatically be tweeted daily or weekly from an account and an archive of previous “editions” of your paper.li is also available.
It doesn’t work well if you’re just pulling in links from disparate lists of Twitter accounts. So many of these Twitter accounts don’t have a single subject focus, so irrelevant links can be pulled out. This may be fine if you’ve set up the paper.li account for yourself, as a way to quickly scan links your Twitter friends may have tweeted, but your Twitter followers may not be interested in these links at all.
I know some people get irritated by having paper.li tweets appear in their Twitter stream because of this reason. The links appear to be a random collection of unrelated items, with no central theme bringing them together. Here’s an example of what I’d consider to be an unsuccessful paper.li in this respect.
Extra Loud paperli

Extra Loud Library Voices paper.li

The key to a successful paper.li is down to the way it’s set up and how it’s managed. It does seem to work best with specific subject/topic information if you can pull links in from a limited set of Twitter users who specifically focus on a particular subjects and nothing else (corporate/business accounts work best for this, rather than personal accounts) or a range of unique keywords.
I’ve created a number of newspapers using paper.li
Many of them are focused upon libraries (but with different angles) and a couple are charity related. They each have a specific focus and through trial and error I worked out the best way to pull a range of relevant links from Twitter (& Facebook) together. Often the method/set up was pretty straightforward and hung on a range of unique/ limited keywords.
The “Love Libraries! Save Libraries!” newspaper is the most complicated and this was only possible because paper.li have recently improved the functions of the service. It used to only allow a single method of searching for links in each paper, but now allows a combination of 5 searches in each paper. They include keyword, user, list of users, hashtags, facebook keywords. It makes it so much more flexible.
If you’ve ever set up an automated system in the hope that that it will be 100% accurate, you will know that this doesn’t always work. Automated systems do pull through the ocassional miss-hit and incorrect link. Up until now paper.li has been completely automated, but they have now updated their service, so that users can have greater control over the links that are published.
Users can now edit their paper once it has been compiled. They can:
  • Delete articles that aren’t relevant.
  • Move more relevant articles to the top of paper to highlight them as key stories/links/news items.
  • Add an editorial comment – useful for letting readers know what subject coverage is in your paper.li, or maybe you want to point readers to specific websites related to your paper.
  • Click on “i” that appears under an article it shows other paper.li users that have picked up this article and also other Twitter users that have mentioned this article in a tweet. This is extremely useful for identifying other Twitter users interested in the same subjects/topics as you.
  • Click on Twitter user associated with a link in your paper.li and interact with them as you would via Twitter. ie retweet, reply, follow, etc.
  • Add a background image to your paper.li

All of these features enable users to present a much more relevant/tailored paper.

The relevance of a paper.li paper also not only depends on where/how you pull the links in, but also where that information is displayed and presented. For example, the “Voices For The Library” and “Extra Loud Library Voices” are tweeted via my own personal Twitter account and via the @ukpling account. Having it tweeted via @ukpling generates much more interest than if it’s tweeted from my account. The key is to be able to tweet the information from an account the links relate to.  eg Barnardos, Visual Disability Charities, Surrey Libraries. Tweeting from the Surrey Libraries account won’t be a problem, but it would be so much better if I could arrange for Barnardos, etc to tweet the charity links related to their aims.

The new functions paper.li has added have made the service so much more useable, but the best paper.li’s will still be the ones that people put in the effort to set up and manage correctly.

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