The Tool: Paper.li is an online content curator that enables individuals to select sources of information, group them, and publish the results in an online newspaper. The tool allows users to select content contributors from Google+, Facebook, RSS Feeds, Twitter, and YouTube, arrange the content by priority, and then add a newspaper title and custom color. The company will then aggregate the information from each content contributor at a predetermined time, and publish a ‘newspaper’ containing all of the content.
The Use: According to Paper.li, the site’s free and premium tools can be used for a variety of functions, including as a business newsletter, to cover individual events, to monitor competitors, to gather an audience, to host a club website, or to simply host a targeted news site. By providing users to ability to easily create and distribute a newspaper-like, multi-source experience, Paper.li enables educators and business to aggregate important data and present it to students, customers, or competitors. In the education world, teachers can use this tool to collect student blog, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube assignments, and present them in one easy-to-navigate location. Teachers can also use the platform to group and present content, provide updates to parents and students, and assemble additional sources of information for easy student consumption. In the business world, companies can use the platform to track markets, reach customers, and aggregate data. In both of these contexts, Paper.li’s true benefit is it’s simple user interface, ability to identify relevant content sources, and automated updating feature.
The Downsides: To see if Paper.li was intuitive and effective, I created a paper to aggregate the content we provide in this course; you can find the paper at http://paper.li/TJB81/1362944379. Overall, creating the paper was easy and intuitive, but I had a few issues that qualify as downsides. First, while the platform is built to aggregate types of content that frequently change, it updates infrequently. You can choose to update a paper twice daily, once each day, or once each week – for a tool that is built to capture content types that are updated multiple times each day, this seems insufficient. Furthermore, after plugging in content sources, Paper.li pulls articles and videos from those sources that do not relate to the paper’s theme, and it is not easy for authors to filter out those items. For example, when I created our ILD 831 paper, I originally listed all our blog RSS feeds, and Paper.li arranged a daily paper that aggregated those posts in one place. Nice. Then, I decided to add some additional Twitter and YouTube content, so I searched for “leadership” and “technology” and selected a few sources that the interface suggested. The next edition of the paper led with a story about a spare car parts market in Lagos, Nigeria, and did not contain any blog posts from class members. This certainly lessened the usefulness of the paper, and made me wary of adding certain types of content.