A couple weeks ago, Bob Ambrogi (who has a great looking new site, by the way) reviewed Paper.li, a resource that creates a newspaper-like result out of specific Twitter accounts. Paper.li, or “Daily on Twitter” as they call it, does some pretty cool things, including automatically categorizing tweets into topics (Technology, Travel, Health, Crime, etc.) The resulting page also has embedded video and pictures, which partially satisfied my need for “The Daily Prophet” type interaction. I have to say that I really like what I’ve seen so far, and have a few “advanced features” that you might want to test out for yourself.

About six months ago, we reviewed another Twitter-To-Newspaper site called Twitter Times. I still use it almost everyday in order to catch up with those folks out there that I follow. Right off the bat, however, I noticed that Paper.li offered some advanced features that Twitter Times doesn’t (create a paper based on a hashtag “#” for example).

Make Use of the Hard Work of Others (The Work Smarter, Not Harder Approach)

First of all, you can “Daily on Twitter” someone else account. Why would you want a “Daily on Twitter” of someone else’s Twitter account? One obvious reason is that there a some people out there that have a very focused use of Twitter.  Say they only follow what Law Firms are tweeting; or the only follow topics of politics; or they only follow issues like technology or health. With Paper.li, you can take advantage of all their hard efforts and have a daily synopsis of what issues they are discussing or reading.  Let me give you an example of how this feature would work using the topic of “Health”.

The first thing I’d want to do is look at Paper.li’s “Health Topic” page to see who the “big players” are that already have a “Daily on Twitter” set up. Right off the bat, I found someone that fits the profile I’m looking for by the twitter name of @hxjournprof.

I click on her “Daily on Twitter” feed, and I narrow that down even more by going to the “Health” section of the paper and clicking the “Health” link to take me directly to the health section.  Right away I see this is a gold mine of Health Topic information and I book mark this page to return to later. If I wanted to, I could actually have Paper.li send me an email notification (via the “notify me” link) letting me know when the page has been updated (usually every 24 hours).

How great is that??  I’ve just taken advantage of all the work that an expert in this particular topic has compiled (hope you didn’t mind, Christy!!), and now I have a quick and easy way of keeping up with all that information in one handy place! I think my Dad calls this the “work smarter, not harder” technique. One thing to remember is that the topics are limited, and are automatically generated.  This means that you don’t have a great amount of flexibility, and things tend to get mis-labeled based on the limitations of Paper.li’s taxonomy algorithm.

Create a Newspaper Focused on Particular Twitter Accounts

This approach is something that can be really useful if you set it up correctly. Let’s say that you want to create a Daily on Twitter newspaper based solely on law firms that use Twitter. What I did was set up a separate Twitter account (@amlaw100) and followed a bunch of active law firm twitter accounts. I cheated by going to some twitter lists that I knew of, and just went through and followed the active firms. Within a few minutes, I had about 70 firms that I was following. Then I went back to Paper.li and created a “Daily on Twitter” of law firms. Easy as pie! Now I have a single page I can go to and easily read what the law firms are tweeting about. It’s a nice looking format, and I can share it with others if I wanted… like I’m sharing it with you right now!!

Limits of Paper.li

  • Paper.li is still in Alpha testing, so they could actually pull this at any time, or completely re-write how they set up the results. So don’t get upset if either of these happen, as that’s part of “Alpha testing”. 
  • You’re limited to 3 “Daily on Twitter” papers that you can create. This is based on you giving Paper.li access to your Twitter account… if you have more than one Twitter account, each one can have up to three.
  • Paper.li cannot index “private” Twitter accounts (make sense to me.)
  • Topics are limited and controlled by Paper.li
  • Results are automatically indexed under topics based on Paper.li’s taxonomy, and a lot of results can be mis-labeled, or simply not placed under a topic at all.
Even with all of these limitations, Paper.li definitely has some use for people that like their information in an easy-to-read and easy-to-access format. I highly recommend that you go give it a test drive and see if it is something that you find as useful as I do.