It seems ironic that Facebook would title one of their new digital apps “Paper” (which is set to roll out on February 3). Without hearing anything else about it, what would you think it could be? More than likely you’d probably assume it was a notepad or word processing type of app, but, in fact, Facebook is relying on the shortened version of the word “newspaper,” and it will change the very face of their content on your mobile.
If you belong to Facebook, you can check for updates in one of two ways. On your computer, you can access your News Feed, which can be arranged by either “Most Recent” or “Top Stories.” (What even is “Top Stories,” and does anyone here even use it? Who among us isn’t irritated when the format we had previously set to “Most Recent” defies us and reverts back to “Top Stories”?)
The other way to check your feed is via your mobile phone, and this is the landscape that is going to soon be dramatically different. You know how, right now, your feed is a linear progression of your friends’ and family’s most recent updates, in chronological order, from the most recent post? (Again, we’re talking about mobile Facebook here, not that evil PC switcheroo.) Well, Paper is going to sort that currently unorganized data into more easily manageable sections, like those you’d find in a newspaper.
You may be asking, well what kind of sections will there be, and will these sections be customizable? There will be over a dozen sections to choose from that contain more general topics like science, sports, and food, and your updates will be grouped according to the categories in which they fall.
Paper will even have an effect on the way you view your updates. Now, each post will have a customized “card” to go along with it, which you can view by swiping sideways on your phone, as opposed to scrolling down vertically. So, if you don’t have a touch-screen, there’s the potential that this could suck for you. If you have ever used the Flipboard app, then you will be one step ahead, as that sort of structure was the basis for Paper’s design.
You will also be able to tilt your phone in order to view high-resolution panoramic photos in full, and full-screen videos will auto-play (yeah, no one enjoys the auto-play feature, guys). Though, you will be afforded live previews of your posts and photos before they’re published, just in case you decide that maybe it isn’t the best idea to post that video of your cousin farting into the backyard barbecue.
Michael Matas, the design lead for the Paper app, said that the hope in designing this app was that if Facebook could change the way its content was being displayed, it might inspire people to also change the type of content they post. As Matas put it, “it’s [not] fun to [create]...great stuff if no one [gets to see] it.”
This sounds promising by way of Facebook content gaining more exposure, particularly now, when it has come to light that Facebook may be ruining the self esteem of millions of its users by not sharing their content with their family and friends. You think they’re not “liking” and “sharing” your stuff because they’re blocking you or they don’t find what you post to be enjoyable or valuable, yet it may simply just be because they can’t see it.
How frustrating it is in today’s culture of over-sharing to want to vent to your friends for feedback and receive none in return. It’s like standing on a mountain and screaming your problems to a bunch of deaf people, or to no one in particular, like in the film Garden State. Hopefully Paper will help to give some of Facebook’s users the chance to be seen again.