Talking Tech Friday – Scribd

Today’s column is a review of Scribd!

What is it?

Scribd is a document sharing website.  It allows you to upload a variety of document formats (such as MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint, PDF, etc) and share them with others, without having to download and open attachments.  It also allows you to share and embed documents on websites.  Scribd’s iPaper format is “the first document format built for the web”, or can be described as YouTube for documents.  It “standardizes all document formats into one viewer that can be seamlessly integrated into webpages.” (From the About page).  You can also create groups to organize a collaborative document library, or create an individual profile and create a social network.

How does it work?

You must sign up to use Scribd, but it only requires an email address, username, and password.

Once you’ve registered, you are taken to your own workspace in Scribd. You can edit your profile if you like, but there is no requirement to do so.

You can upload documents from your computer, both singly and in batches.  You can also “slurp” documents from a webpage URL, though you must own those documents if you want to do that.  The next step after uploading a document is entering information: title, description, tags, asssigning a category, a group (if you have one), and document type. Finally, Scribd takes you to a share screen where you can share the document via email, various bookmarking sites (del.icio.us, StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, etc), have a direct URL to share, and the embed code for the document.

As a test, I uploaded Rick’s powerpoint presentation on Google from last spring’s presentation. As usual, however, I can’t embed it in WordPress:

“We’ve discovered that WordPress aggressively strips JavaScript embed codes, rendering iPaper unusable in WordPress blogs. We are working overtime to quickly find a solution to this problem.”

Another useful feature of Scribd is the ability to use it to send email messages to people, allowing them to view attachments in iPaper rather than downloading attachments. All you do is attach the documents to your email, and include the email address ipaper@scribd.com as a CC recipient. Scribd then converts your attachments to iPaper format, which the other recipients will receive. This is an especially useful tool for avoiding firewalls or attachment size limits, as well as format limitations (such as Office 2003 vs. Office 2007). You can also send attachments to that email address to add them to your Scribd library, rather than uploading them.

Possible Library Uses

I think this could be a very useful internal tool – such as working with groups and sharing information.  I can also see a use for being able to embed documents on a website.  Additionally, I think that creating a group for your library would be a great way to share or highlight some digitized material, or have a collaborative club.   For example, some interesting groups include NASA, Books from the Gutenberg Project, and the National Science Foundation.  Share your ideas in the comments!

Reviews

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~ by Anali on October 10, 2008.