Category Archives: Charities & Other Social Profits

Paper.li: Vanity project or curation tool?

C’mon. We’ve all seen the tweets:

The Brad Vickers Daily is out

Brad is fictional so if he has a daily, my apologies. But you can easily replace “Brad Vickers” with just about any name.

These tweets frustrated me greatly. Why would I want to follow a link that takes me to the tweets of people that you follow? Where’s the value in that for me?

It all came across to me as a vanity project: It’s all about me and you should be interested. To be fair, no one probably thought that or intended to give that message but that’s the way it came across to myself and others when the e-paper from paper.li is named after the person sending it out.

Now I can see value in having an e-paper that collects links from the people you follow on Twitter (as a way to easily browse content from accounts you value) but that value is limited to you. Please don’t share it with the rest of us unless you are using it as a curation tool. And if you are, you need a better name.

Paper.li as a curation tool

Then after attending an NTC session on curation by Beth Kanter and Will Coley and reading posts about it by Beth and others, I slowly had an epiphany: What if paper.li was used as a curation tool?

I then saw tremendous potential is this e-paper tool.

My personal blog is about building healthy communities (a mix of urbanism, social justice and engaged citizens) with a focus on the communities I live in. It’s a big picture look at how a wide range of issues and decisions affect each other and the overall quality of life that everyone in a community enjoys. It’s a tough concept that when I’m explaining to people in person sees me drawing a big circle to represent a healthy with my hands then putting its elements like addressing poverty and active transportation around the circle then crisscrossing my hands all over to show the interconnections of the network. People get the general idea (I think) but it must look funny if not confusing.

BHCWR paperliSo I was left looking for a better way to share how I looked at building a healthy community. I settled on doing something I thought I’d never do and create an e-paper with paper.li.

I realized that I had shaped the twitter accounts that I follow by my passion for building a healthy community and that they shared lots of great content. By creating an e-paper, I was able to share this seemingly eclectic mix as a cohesive whole.

Even better, by doing so I could help to get thinking about these issues in the context of building a healthy community including a mix of ideas to consider and a look at the challenges faced. I ensured a local focus by including others on Twitter who looked at one or more of the components from a local angle.

I initially had it as a daily but currently maintain it as a weekly.

I signal to people that it may be of interest to them by calling it: Building Healthy Communities in Waterloo Region. On Twitter, it shares some of the “contributors” and on Facebook it shares one of the top articles.

If nothing else, I find value in it for myself. By collecting the content shared in links of people I follow on Twitter, I have a handy way of easily browsing relevant content which I can choose to read and then decide whether to share it with my followers. But I’m pleased that six other people find enough value in it to subscribe to it by e-mail.

In short, I realized that paper.li is a great curation tool as I’m sure it was always intended to be despite my intial misgivings.

In my next post, I’ll share advice on using paper.li as a curation tool.

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