Paper-is-back: Reminiscing good ol’ tech-free times with Facebook

Published: February 15, 2014

Paper is a powerful extraction of the news feed tailored to specific interests that will enable publishers to direct a series of content through stories. PHOTO: REUTERS

Stories do more than just entertain, they define us. Stories give meaning and context to what would otherwise be a collection of easily forgettable facts. They say behind every brand is a story and thus Facebook just started a new chapter of their fairy tale by launching a new app Paper.

Facebook, a company which has gone from a dorm room conception to a $150 billion capitalisation, outshined the social media industry by introducing the new app that focuses on the idea of stories.

Source: Itunes

The app is available for download on iOS devices only.

As I work in a paper-free environment for a technology based company, the above video evoked the nostalgic feelings about the good old tech-free times. The screeching sound of pen, the joy of paper folding, the rhythmic tone of a typewriter and the humming birds took me down memory lane. I felt these visual moments were framed to stir-up senses, chiefly the power of perceiving by touch.

When I downloaded the app, I was greeted with an introductory video and a brief walk-through of what it’s capable of. Before fading into the background, it accustomed me to all of its features and let me dip into the wonderland. I found it as an interesting dichotomy; Paper taking the standard Facebook feed and reinvigorating it as an immersive, alluring scrolling set of screens.

Source: Itunes

It compiles photos, videos, blogs and feed items into sections that are easy to consume without any buttons, menus and other distractions. News stories appear like small cards, which can be flipped over for further reading. Everything appears in full screen with a profusion of fluid animation effects and all you have to do is to swipe, pinch the screen or just tilt to explore high-resolution pictures.

Goodbye buttons and welcome swipes.

Source: Itunes

Apart from your feed, you can dig into topics where you will see stories and visuals selected by novel algorithms.

So is the ‘flipboard’ look-a-like app with the ‘Apple’ introductory video just another derivative app with more graphic, full-screen photos, videos and prettified status updates?

Is Paper the solution to any problems or is it just anticipating a change in how people will want to read and browse things?

Source: Itunes

I believe that this is an extremely powerful extraction of the news feed tailored to specific interests that will enable visionary publishers to direct a series of content through stories. I was overwhelmed to learn that Paper comprises of news that fits the user personally. Just imagine someone designing a newspaper just for you or you drafting one on your own. As the application furnishes the user’s interest by custom-made newsfeed, I sense this will enable Facebook to recapture old-fashioned individuals like me who migrated to Twitter ages ago.

Source: Itunes

Over and above, we can anticipate a break-through for media companies to make the most of this new feature set.

Initially, organising topic-based stories will allow media giants to grab the attention of users in long-form content. It will be comparatively easy to make content viral by just leaking sections of the story over a span of couple of days rather than a full publish. These shorter chunks could create anticipation for the next episode and the users could follow the story as it unfolds. It will be easier to keep a track of stories and their analysis through a few swipes.

I perceive the strength to follow the news as it breaks, transforms and surfaces the truth all from one specific feed, as a blessing.

It’s simply more than an e-reader.

Ali Khoja

Ali Khoja

The author is the founder and COO of Peekaboo Guru, a data technology company and visiting faculty at IoBM university. He's an Actuarial graduate from the University of Kent. He tweets as @alykhoja (

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