Paper.li – Content Aggregation for Leaders

Picture 1

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.

The Leadership Perspective: Overall, Paper.li functions as an interesting way to aggregate information and present it through a desktop browser. While the product does have some issues (in addition to the two I outlined, the site seemed to have trouble grabbing some RSS feeds, and some blog interfaces like WordPress will not allow users to embed Paper.li javascript codes in their blogs), it provides an attractive, easy, and cost-effective way to present content from selected sources in one place. This tool certainly has leadership uses – from using a Paper.li to keep employees informed to aggregating content that an institution produces to tracking competitors or providing customers with a targeted source of news, leaders can use Paper.li to communicate, inform, and influence. With consumers now expecting a constant stream of content, Paper.li can serve as a leader’s personal and targeted aggregator and, as such, the site fills a viable leadership and management need.

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Paper.li – Content Aggregation for Leaders

  1. Timely analysis as I’m researching curation tools right now for some office initiatives. I think you nailed two reasons why I wouldn’t use this tool. There is breaking business news all day and if we can only refresh on a very limited schedule we run the risk that we are promoting an out of date user experience. Nothing is more frustrating, speaking from experience, as to go my local newspaper hoping to find something on breaking news that I just saw on Twitter and instead find a day old story on subject xyz.

    I also want very tight content aggregation and a story on spare auto parts in Nigeria is not going to add value for a reader in Minnesota.

    Curation software is “hot” right now in the sense that our members don’t want general news, they want very specific news feeds that meet certain content restrictions. I’m going to look further at Paper.li, but this is a great first start. Thanks for the analysis.

    • Peter – You really identified the issue with this tool – it doesn’t provide real-time data in a real-time environment. Consumers expect instant access to information, and a daily update is just not sufficient. After a few days of receiving the ILD 831 paper, I’ve grown accustomed to the format and style, and Paper.li does present a clean and well-organized product. However, the product is a snapshot, and, I’ve read every post before it showed up in my Paper.li. That doesn’t bode well for the product – if people continue to search for quicker ways of accessing their news, the tool will have to speed up to compete in this space.

  2. Pingback: On Twitter & Paper.li | Ruined for Life: Phoenix Edition

  3. Timothy,

    This is a very thorough and concise outlook of the pros and cons of paper.li.

    It sounds like a very intriguing leadership tool but immediately, I began to think of some of the disadvantages and you addressed each one of these.

    I would imagine that the inconsistency of when the data is being pulled would be a huge issue. I would also be concerned with the ease of compiling info quickly like this. I see myself as a pretty detail oriented person and I would definitely want to double and triple check anything in the paper, but I know that there are a few people I work with that would probably just publish it without double checking and end up with some irrelevant data like the Nigeria article you pointed out.

    Again, great job giving us some insight on this tool. Do you see any real uses in the healthcare field?

    • I can see healthcare entities creating targeted newspapers containing location-specific or healthcare-specific news, much like any company could create a Paper.li to provide industry insight and targeted information to customers. Aside from this general use, I’m not sure that the product has many internal uses – I don’t see hospitals or other healthcare organizations using Paper.li for internal purposes – it’s a bit slow and a bit too open for that.

  4. Timothy, nice analysis, and you are right, curation is the current buzzword! I appreciate you digging in and trying out Paper.Li and sharing issues you discovered.

    Two others I have played with – Scoop.It and Feedly. I used Scoop.It to gather resources in a recent MOOC I completed, see http://www.scoop.it/t/my-edcmooc-resources.

    And Feedly might be my new Google Reader, which just announced it is shutting down. http://www.feedly.com

    • I like the look and feel of Scoop.It – I’ll have to give it a try. I use Flipboard on the iPad and, while it’s a slightly different tool, I believe it’s the gold standard in curation right now.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: