Call Itself What It Wants, It’s Still Just Another Aggregator

Link: A Review of Paper.li: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

While the reviewer in the above link seems to be fair in listing the pros and cons, I think the cons far outweigh the pros (I think the reviewer was thinking of the number of pros versus cons while I’m thinking about the value of each pro and con). It’s not just “buggy” if something is attributed to the wrong person, it’s an issue of “moral rights” of the author/creator. (Side note: Do people not remember the ban on plagiarism in school? It’s closely related to moral rights.)

“Promotes the paper as something you created”

I have a problem with this. The “newspaper” created by paper.li is done using your Twitter account (people can also sign up using their  Facebook account, which I think is cause for great concern considering that most people do not post publicly on Facebook), but the paper itself isn’t your creation as you didn’t write the content (if you’re lucky, maybe some of your tweets will be in it) nor have you personally selected each “article” in the paper. Paper.li calls its users “publishers” and “editors”, though the job of a newspaper editor is more involved than just selecting a feed. An editor has to actually read the content first before publishing (also editing the article for typos, grammar, spelling, and appropriate content).

To be fair, I did set up a paper.li account. I don’t like their Privacy Policy, but seeing as I don’t have a lot of information about myself on my Twitter profile, I don’t have much to worry about really. Since the review (see link above), paper.li did put in the ability to remove content off of a paper as well as add some additional content filters in the initial setup for a new paper. An example of a paper.li “newspaper” is one set up by HBO for the series Game of Thrones (which I have seen before, but didn’t bother reading since I was more interested in following @GameOfThrones on Twitter directly) – see Game of Thrones. As you can see, most of the “articles” are related to Game of Throne or A Song of Ice and Fire.

Despite the added controls, I still don’t see a good reason to use paper.li. Paper.li can dress itself up and call its aggregated feeds “newspapers”, but they really are still just aggregated feeds, albeit published feeds versus private feeds like in Google Reader. I guess that’s where my problem really lies with paper.li. It’s just a glorified content aggregator, especially now since they’ve added the ability to include RSS feeds into your “newspaper”; however, unlike something like Google Reader, people aren’t reading these feeds before they are published in aggregate as a “newspaper”.  I have to question why I would want to read someone’s paper.li “newspaper” if chances are they haven’t read everything that’s being put into their “newspaper”. Removing content from the “newspaper” after it’s been published still doesn’t help because I could have read the content before it was removed by the “publisher”.

At least when I see stuff on someone’s Tumblr, I know that that person has monitored what he/she posted. Even if some people get a little carried away with reblogging pictures and animated gifs, at least I get a sense of what that person likes.

It just seems that the content on any “newspaper” created on paper.li can be found elsewhere. Paper.li would like us to think that it’s a great way to share stuff that you’re interested in, but how is it actively sharing when technically its users are passively sharing stuff they haven’t necessarily even read yet? Paper.li just feels very impersonal and hardly social. As nateonthenet.com commented on my Google+ post about paper.li, “yet another service trying to make money on the back of an existing service without bringing anything particularly new to the table.” Paper.li does indeed put ads on every “newspaper” that’s created.

The other thing about paper.li that is unsettling is this feeling that I could be spending huge amounts of time on that one site setting up different “newspapers” hoping that people will actually read them, but the truth is that the users on there are busy setting up “newspapers”, not reading them. Paper.li makes no distinction between a user who’s a “publisher” versus a user who’s a reader. Like I said, paper.li feels very impersonal, but on top of it, I feel like there’s no real audience. (And I feel like I wasted some time today, but then again I ended up writing a blog and me writing something is always a good thing).

I’d much rather blog and micro-blog. 😀 Yay for blogging, where bloggers can be publishers, editors, writers, and promoters of their own content; and for micro-blogging where you can actively share stuff with others.

˜˜˜C

See also an older review of paper.li: Paper.li: Create your own Twitter newspaper.

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