October 11, 2006

Last week, Ross Mayfield from SocialText came by the online persuasion class I’m taking this quarter (more on that class soon) and, as a parting comment, told us about SlideShare, a new web service that embeds slideshows in web sites a la YouTube. While slideshows are, as a rule, less exciting than 15-year-old emo kids with video responses to acquisition rumors announcements, I still think there’s a lot of potential here.

First, we have the academic side – every quarter I see great presentations created for the classes that I tutor (often I’ve seen the PowerPoint deck evolve from “I don’t know what my topic really is…” to the finishing touches right before the students’ final presentations) and these presentations are often shown once or twice, then never again. While many students don’t have the time or inclination to turn these presentations into videos or flash files, getting them to upload these files to a server so they could ‘live on’ after the class (perhaps all the presentations from a class could be tagged with the class name and quarter) would make sure that they would be seen outside the relatively limited scope of their class.

Also, for very basic presentations, SlideShare is a nice alternative to a PowerPoint viewer, with the added bonus that it can be embedded in a web page – presenting can be as simple as opening a browser. Of course, for multimedia presentations the software is far from ideal, but if text and bullets are your thing, it might fit the bill.

Finally, I’m excited to see how SlideShare evolves in the coming months to incorporate audio into their software – this would be one step closer to allowing presentations to live on after conferences, or provide a recap to conference attendees who were interested in the topic but might have missed some slides. Similar software – such as Microsoft Producer – exists, but SlideShare has a far lower barrier of entry, cost, and easy redistribution.

Please let me know if you’re interested in checking out SlideShare – I have a couple of invites for the beta and would love to hear more about other uses that you might think of for it.

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