101 cool tools: Paper.li

This is a new regular series of posts where I highlight a cool online service that you may or may not have heard of. Whether I ever make it to 101 is debatable I feel… I’ve also set up a Twitter feed where links to these posts will be automatically pumped.

This is the first post, and it’s about paper.li.


Paper.li is a service that integrates with Twitter, and creates a dynamically produced page, that looks a bit like a newspaper, from the links that are added to Twitter.

You can create a paper from your own (or indeed, someone else’s) followers, or a hashtag, or one of your lists of Twitter users. Here’s what mine looked like when I created it just now:


Here’s an explanation from the website about how it works:

  • extract all tweets that include URLs
  • extract the content found on these URLs:
    • text, e.g. blog post, newspaper article
    • photo, e.g. Flickr, yfrog, Twitpic, …
    • video, e.g. YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, …
  • analyze the extracted text for topic, e.g. Politics, Technology, …
  • surface the day’s most relevant articles (using paper.li magic)
  • construct a newspaper frontpage using the filtered articles, photos and videos

So you can quickly produce an automatically curated page of useful content that people you are interested in have found – on the topics you are interested in. It really is just a case of signing up, typing your terms in and clicking go.

The downside is that you have little control over what it produces. You can see a local council, for example, producing a paper containing content concerning the local area – but it may have to come with caveats!

3 thoughts on “101 cool tools: Paper.li”

  1. I too think paper.li is a great tool.

    There are a couple of issues with it from my point of view. One is that I personally think that the option just to create a paper from the people you follow, while perhaps useful for the individual, seems to be annoying to everyone else. It produces an end product that’s pretty random. I prefer the alternative option of creating a paper around a hashtag which should mean that everything in it is focused on a particular topic.

    The other issue is that the whole paper.li thing seems to annoy some people generally, and I have had a number of people tell me they consider it to be equivalent to spam. I think the people who take this view are the heavy Twitter users who are obviously seeing lots of them pop up in their stream. I actually think that the real value of paper.li is for light Twitter users who dip in and out. It is useful for these people because it pulls together all the material around a particular topic in one place, and saves them searching through their stream for it. I think heavy twitter users need to lighten up about it and recognise that it is of value for others.

  2. Hi John

    Yeah, as a reasonably heavy Twitter user (following c2,700 people right now) I see a lot of these popping up, and I’m not interested in all of them. But you know, I see a lot of stuff I’m not interested in on Twitter, and I just ignore it, and move on.

    For those without large follower and following counts, I suspect Paper.li is a great way of discovering new content.

  3. I find most useful the ability to create a paper.li edition around a Twitter list, such as http://paper.li/markpack/engine-group, which is based on a list of people in the group of companies where I work.

    Seeing a selection of what they’ve found interesting is handy, and presenting it as one page with a bit of layout and graphics makes it more usable than the alternatives such as scrolling through lots of individual tweets.

    (I’ve explained more about my thinking behind the Engine paper.li over on my blog.)

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