Review: Paper.li creates your personalized online newspaper
At a Glance
Web content is great, when you don't mind visiting a multitude of Web sites in order to peruse all that you want to see. Wouldn't it be great if you could grab the content you wanted to read and put it in one place, almost like a virtual newspaper? You can, with Paper.li, another tool in the growing online curation space.
Like rival Storify, Paper.li is a free, cloud-based service, though Paper.li also offers a Pro version ($9 per month) that allows businesses of any size to add their own branding and remove ads. To use Paper.li, you'll need a Twitter or Facebook account, as you must sign in with one or the other, and you need to enter an email address as well. Then, you're up and running.
Creating an online paper is easy: You simply enter the title, add a subtitle if you'd like, and then choose the frequency. You can choose to daily updates, a morning and evening edition, or a weekly paper. So far, so good. But Paper.li stumbles a bit when it comes to finding and selecting content sources for your paper.
The three-column layout is attractive and seems to make sense, at first. The left column is organized by topics (such as news, business, entertainment, and more) and includes links to your accounts. I had signed in with my Facebook account and found that Paper.li didn't then let me access my Twitter account. I could access general Twitter info, using the search tool, but not tweets and other information specific to my own account. The company says this is because they don't currently link the accounts, though they plan to merge the sign-in process in the future to make it simpler.
Going forward, I decided I was better off signing in with my Twitter account, as I was left somewhat unimpressed with Paper.li's Facebook features. When I used the search tool to look for Facebook content to add to my online paper, I was only able to add generic search streams to my paper, not specific items or articles. For example, I searched for "NHL Lockout" and hoped to locate a few items about the presidential candidate that I could add. Instead, I was only able to add a generic item called "Posts mentioning NHL Lockout" to my paper, and while Paper.li did in fact add posts mentioning the troubles with the National Hockey League to my paper, I'd prefer more control over the end result.
When you sign in with Twitter, you're given the option of creating a custom paper (which is the sole option when you log in via Facebook) or creating a one-click paper from your Twitter account. The one-click paper looks great and is eminently readable: The top story (which Paper.li chooses after analyzing your account) is presented with a nice headline and a big picture, and the overall layout is attractive and organized. It offers a great way to read and digest content from your Twitter account, but it's only updated once a day, which may not be frequently enough for heavy Twitter users. If you're looking to promote your Twitter offerings, you can have readers subscribe to your own daily paper, and you can take advantage of Paper.li's PromoTweet feature, which lets you attract attention to your work.
Paper.li's Twitter features outpace its Facebook offerings, by far. The service offers a great way to access Twitter content, but it really does need a more frequent updating option.
Note: The "Try it for free" button on the Product Information page takes you to the vendor's site, where you can use this Web-based software.