You have probably seen a customized “daily newspaper” on Twitter already. Particularly, in the morning, you’ll find these “newspapers” from people who find you in your stream. They are called Whatever Daily News or some more specific name.
What’s going on?
The virtual publications are aggregations of links that were shared on Twitter in a 24-hour period. They are organized into a very readable format that looks like an old-fashioned newspaper. You can peruse the front page or read from one of 4-5 topical news sections.
I know nothing about the group behind this novel project. You start one by going to paper.li. It is free and takes about three minutes to set up your own. Then Voila! you are a virtual newspaper publisher.
Except there is no original content. And it is sometimes confusing who first posted the information offered. Let me explain:
The New York Times runs a story about some leaks embarrassing the US government. My pal Joe, who tweets as @DeepThroat2 tweets a link to it. I see his post and RT, giving Joe credit and pointing to the Times article.
But in the Daily News. Joe is completely eliminated. In fact, it’s hard to tell the words you are reading come from the Times and not me. I may have posted a few words saying that I completely disagree with the Times article. But the Daily News strips out what I say, and just shows you the original article above my tweet handle and photo.
This does a few things for my benefit. It re-distributes my tweet address and shows the sorts of topics I cover. If I linked to the Times it may even make me look smarter than is the actual case.
it also changes the dynamic that makes Twitter special to me. I love the conversations, and there is nothing conversational about these newspapers. It is one-directional republishing of other people’s content, which brings me back to the point that I do not know who is behind paper.li.
I do not know how they are funded or how they expect to make money. The obvious way to do that is to insert ads into these papers as they rise in popularity.
If that is the case, I wonder who gets the ad revenue. I doubt that the publisher of the Whatever Daily News does. I am certain I don’t, nor does @DeepThroat2. I’m also pretty sure, the Times, who is the original content publisher doesn’t share any revenue either.
Perhaps I’m over reacting, but I find myself just a little suspicious.
Oh, there’s another concern as well. Remember when FourSquare users first popped up in your stream taking about being the mayor of your local CostCo. It really was pretty innocuous. Then FourSquare started getting more popular. If you follow a lot of people-as I do, then you know that the frequency of these posts can get pretty innocuous. Previously I called it stream pollution.
These daily newspapers are gaining rapidly in popularity. I have this fear that I will find a second major pollutant in my stream, coming from some of my favorite Twitter friends, whose intentions may be good, but whose total output of one-directional content may block those conversations that I hold so dearly.