UPDATED: The David Akin Daily: An explainer


Ever since I got my first GEnie e-mail account back in the early 1990s, I've been a keener when it comes to exploring new Internet applications and social media tools. A new one I'm fiddling with is called paper.li . Paper.li purports to generate an online newspaper of sorts but the content comes from links posted to Twitter by those you follow on Twitter. (If you're not up on Twitter, I'm afraid you're just going to have to poke around elsewhere to find out how that works.)

As I'm actually in the newspaper business, I think it's possible that it's easy to get confused about who or what produces what paper.li calls The David Akin Daily. For example, I had a colleague at the Calgary Sun earlier this week why The David Akin Daily was linking to a story by its competitor The Calgary Herald and not to its version of the same story. Here's the answer: Though it's called The David Akin Daily, I, like every other paper.li user, have no control over what actually appears on the “daily” that carries my name. No Sun Media editors or reporters vet the content or are involved in its production. The content is completely produced by an automated software robot that simply culls through all the links posted to Twitter by those I follow on Twitter and then it generates a content page from that.

So why use this thing? The short answer is: Beats me. But I'm going to continue to fiddle with it because I find with most social media applications that either my users or followers figure out how they want me to use it; I figure out how it can help me as a professional newsgatherer or reporter; or the application evolves into new and useful ways. I remember at one point I was so down on Twitter I was ready to quit it. And now look at me

Paper.li, incidentally, is “an alpha” application which is the geek way of saying it's still in the highly experimental, not-ready-for-prime-time phase of development. And indeed, it tends to plagued by delays and frequent outages.

So far, I've had a few of my Twitter gang e-mail me to say they think it's neat.

But, for me, the key disclaimer (and one I wish paper.li would publish) that I'd like to put on the record is that I have zero responsibility for the content going out on The David Akin Daily other than the fact that I signed up for an account there and lend my name to the publication! That might be a problem down the road — and if it is, that'll be it for The David Akin Daily — but for now, I'm willing to give this new service a shot.

Keen, as always to hear your thoughts …


UPDATE – OCT. 19, 2010

The confusion factor that I mentioned in the original post — that many people assume that, because my name is on this “daily” that I have some ability to control its content — has now outweighed the usefulness of the service. Some of those I follow tweeted links to stories about the Russell Williams trial and so, photos from the trial and other content from that I think aren't appropriate unless presented in a highly contextualized format (i.e. not by a software robot) sealed the deal but too often content was going out under my name that I found was presented without context. So, I'm bailing on paper.li . Good luck with the service but it's not for me.


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