Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Using Twitter and Paper.li to Create a Focused Daily Paper

Over the years, I have developed a few techniques to cope with the information overload that most of us deal with these days. Internet searches return millions of results, so I focus my search terms. My favorite sites are constantly updating their information, so I subscribe to their feeds in a feed reader. I bookmark hundreds of sites that interest me and I store hundreds of my own documents and thousands of email messages. When you throw in real time social services like Twitter and facebook, the information flow turns into a flood and it becomes nearly impossible to harvest the most relevant bits of information from your environment. There is a way, though, to simply harvest some of your Twitter gems with an interesting service called Paper.li.

Paper.li is a service that culls the top links from your day's Twitter feed and organizes them into a newspaper-like format. The links are converted into short blurbs like article headers and are then organized into categories. You end up with a summary of trending links that represent your follow list. This paper can be shared with others and even has an announcement feature that tweets the latest edition for you. My latest edition can be found at http://paper.li/reftechrob

The real value of Paper.li comes when you have an extremely focused follow list on Twitter. For example, if your professional field is engineering and you make a point of primarily following a large number of engineers who are active on Twitter, your paper would probably read like an extremely up to date trade journal. On the other hand, if your follow list is mostly your friends, your paper would read like a random assortment of quirky stories--the feed comes from shared links, not ordinary tweets.

So, if you really want to stay on top of a topic, open a Twitter account, create a focused follow list, and route it through Paper.li. It may give you some of the best reading you've had in some time.

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