RSS to Newsletter Maker – A pitch to the Social Innovation Camp

[Summary: looking for a tool that will make it easy to take Web 2.0 information sharing into the physical world of flyers, leaflets and posters…]

Newsletter Maker

It was a conversation with Espen Berg from the U8 Global Student Partnership for Development this weekend that finally convinced me to get around to pulling together various thoughts I've been thinking lately about the need for a tool that bridges the Web 2.0 <–> Paper 1.0 divide. Espen was telling me about work he is exploring with a number of others, seeking to make Web 2.0 accessible in low-bandwidth environments – realising that many of the benefits of the information revolution (2.0) are not readily available to a large proportion of the worlds population. Whilst many of those people lacking access are in developing nations – a lot are also right here in Leicester, Social Innovation Camp Logoand in cities across the UK – and one the best ways to build at least a temporary bridge across the digital divide seems to me to be with a printer and a bit of paper.

So I've just pitched the idea below into the Social Innovation Camp to see where it could go…


A tool to take web snippets, RSS feeds, social bookmarks and other online media and to easily assemble these in printable leaflet, flyer and poster formats. Making online information available in a non-digital format ready for copying, faxing, posting, sticking up on a notice board, and generally sharing amongst those who prefer to/can only recieve information offline.

Something like a cross between MS Publisher and NetVibes for print, it would need to handle:

  • Collecting snippets from across the web;
  • Agregating and allowing selections to be made from RSS feeds;
  • Editing & formatting of content to make it coherent when on paper and you can't follow the links;
  • Layout and preparation for printing of information;

Ideally such a tool would also allow templates newsletters / posters / flyers to be shared and worked on collaboratively – with the capacity for creating one-off publications, and regular publications, which would auto-update on the basis of RSS feeds etc.

What social need does it address?

The digital divide. (And the 'social media divide'). Whilst the web has made it easier than ever to share information, that sharing is only accessible to a limited number of people.

Creating a bridge between the online and offline worlds can make sure information shared through social media channels is:

a) Available to those without access to the technology;

b) Available to those with access, but who are not yet comfortable using social media technologies;

At present, a lot of people are missing out on a lot of information – and a lot of the potential of information sharing is being lost – because the sharing is taking place in online spaces that are not accessible to everyone.

What’s new about it?

It aims to make publishing on paper move able to move at least somewhere closer to the speed of Web 2.0. Initiatives on bridging the digital divide have tended to focus on bringing people to the technology so that they can access information and services. This looks to make it easy to take the information directly to people in formats and spaces that are accessible to them.

What inspired you?

Realising the amount of information I have at my fingertips is not accessible to many of those I'm working with, meeting with & campaigning with on a day to day basis. Realising its information they could really do with having access to. Realising that if they had access to the information, they could join in many more conversations and I could learn a lot from them. And realising that asking them to learn to use social media spaces is not the only solution.

Image based upon IMG_1435 by vovchychko under Creative Commons Licence.