UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Slideshare Repository and PDFs

Posted by Brian Kelly on 28 Mar 2007

I recently discovered that the Slideshare service (a repository service for slides in PowerPoint or Open Office formats) also allows PDF files to be uploaded. This makes sense as PDFs can be used as a presentation format for slide shows. I then wondered whether Slideshare could be used as a repository for papers in PDF format. So I uploaded a PDF version of a paper on Contextual Web Accessibility – Maximizing the Benefit of Accessibility Guidelines (a paper presented at the W4A workshop in Edinburgh in May 2006). As can be seen, the PDF file has been successfully uploaded to the service (with over 200 views since the document was uploaded).

Slideshare service with an uploaded PDF file

Why am I doing this? If you access the resource you will discover that the text is too small to read unless you zoom in, and if you do this, you will have only a small screen area to read the paper. The file may be inaccessible (a Flash interface to a PDF file) , an issue discussed recently, and the PDF file is not easily printed, downloaded or reused (as Andy Powell commented a while ago, Slideshare is an example of ‘fake sharing’).

However such reservations are based on Slideshare in its current form. If the company felt there was a business case for hosting papers in PDF format, it would surely not be too difficult to provide a more appropriate user interface, and perhaps also providing access to printing and downloading services.

And even if Slideshare felt this was an inappropriate use of their service (and they could, of course, ban papers in PDF format for being hosted by the service) there are still a number of interesting issues which evaluating the service in this way can help address:

  • ease of uploading
  • rapid prototyping
  • architecture (URIs, APIs, …)
  • additional functionality
  • the pros and cons of allowing only quality publications to be uploaded

But since I first drafted this post, there have been further developments in this area – which I’ll address shortly.

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8 Responses to “Slideshare Repository and PDFs”

  1. Peter Miller said

    Scribd is being touted as the Slideshare for text docs:

  2. Hi Peter – yes, I’ve been experimenting with Scribd and will comment on it later. I thought it was worth posting my thoughts on how Slideshare could be regarded as a prototype for Scribd.

  3. BTW I’ve just noticed a techcrunch article about Slideshare which has generated a lot of comments. One interesting issue that was raised was the Terms and Conditions for use of Slideshare. The person who raised this was worried that this was giving Slideshare permissions to do what they want with the slides, although Slideshare’s legal team felt that the conditions were needed in order to allow them to provide the service.

  4. Peter Miller said

    I hope you’ll cover Freebase too. It’s fascinating to see these Web 2.0 sites pop up (and the text2voice on Scribd, for example, I thought was surprisingly good) but I do wonder how many will survive. In many cases I guess the dream is just to get acquired by Yahoogle. Of course, if I had a shred of entrepreneurial spirit, I’d start a Web 2.0 betting site on the topic — but doubtless it’s already been done!

  5. Hi Peter – Freebase is a new one to me, but the Freebase: the Web 3.0 machine posting makes it sound interesting. I’ll investigate.
    Yes I agree, the text2voice conversion which Scribd provides does seem very good (a colleague who works in the accessibility area said he thought the quality was better than that provided buy JAWS).
    And, yes, the sustainability of these services will be an important issue. I think we need to evaluate these services in order to understand how these services are developing, but much thought needs to be given to how we might use them in a serious fashion.

  6. Have you managed to embed a slideshare presentation within a WordPress blog? Its easy in Blogger, but I had difficulties with WordPress.


  7. Hi Roddy – the hosted WordPress blog service only allows a subset of HTML elements to be used. For security reasons the <object> tag can’t be used (as is the case with Javascript). I suspect if I wished to embed presentations from Slideshare in a WordPress blog, I would have to use a WordPress service that was installed in my institution. This is something we’ll likely to explore in future.
    It’s interesting to hear that Blogger seems to support the <object> tag.

  8. Here’s the example, from our internal blog

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