Photo: Vee-O

Burlington Writers Workshop

This past weekend I had the opportunity to speak to a local group of writers, artists, and small business people about the benefits of WordPress. It was a great experience, and I really enjoyed sharing my knowledge with this passionate group from my community.

I was joined by Alexis Dubief, who gave an excellent talk about “Being Awesome Online”, which included practical advice for building your audience, and marketing yourself.

My presentation gave a high-level overview of the WordPress open-source Content Management System, and highlighted some of the differences between a self-hosted WordPress site and and the “freemium” service WordPress.com.

Facebook Paper

Paper is a new app designed to “Explore and share stories from friends and the world around you.” That sounded awfully similar to Facebook as a whole, so I wondered what set this app apart from the social network that it belongs to?

Content

In addition to a revamped view of your News Feed, Paper provides a variety of other “Sections”, such as Planet, Home, and Ideas. It’s not immediately clear how these channels are curated or by whom, but there is clearly a big focus on promoting content from outside your social circle.

Publishing

You can also use Paper to post to Facebook, and there are some differences in the interface as compared to the regular Facebook mobile app. The option to select an “I’m Feeling” status, as well as the ability to create and add to Photo Albums is missing.

When posting in Paper, you can see how your post will look as you add text photos and video. While there aren’t any layout tools, I feel that Paper is taking a cue from products such as Storehouse and Exposure, which focus on crafting visual stories.

Interactivity

Paper has a very fluid user interface that’s intuitive and fun to use. Clearly great care and time have been invested in this app, with many of the features and interactions prototyped beforehand with software of their own design. Facebook has opened-sourced this toolkit, called Origami, which works in conjunction with Apple’s Quartz Composer.


I can picture using this app to access Facebook while on my phone, but as much as I like Paper, I can’t help but feel like it’s a Facebook branded version of Flipboard, albeit with an arguably more advanced UI. Maybe Paper is just an avenue for Facebook to explore new design directions, and ways of expanding their reach. But I don’t see the logic behind separate Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Facebook Paper apps all availbable on the same platform, with largely overlapping feature sets.

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