paper.li: my take

paper.li is the most beautiful and practical application of Twitter data I’ve yet seen.  And somewhat ironically, it harks back to a day when newspapers were all the rage.

The application essentially aggregates and presents back information in the form of a single web page based on a Twitter ID.  Mine is here.  Sounds simple, but I’m guessing the algorithms that drive it are quite complex.  And that’s what makes the offering so compelling.  They seem to find the articles that I find most interesting, those that I would have retweeted had I seen them on my Twitter feed.

In some respects, its charm is similar to that of Facebook.  The algorithms that determine what constitutes your Facebook homepage seem similarly complex.  How long does Facebook wait until it tells you the number of your friends that have recently connected to another person, for example?  And with paper.li, what factors determine whether articles are presented to you and the order in which they appear?

It’s lovely.  And useful.  If you’re off Twitter for a while, it’s a good way to catch up without being overwhelmed.

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