I’ve recently been evaluating the Slideshare service. Andy Powell has recently commented on Slideshare, pointing out its ease-of-use, community-based approach and trusting the users (in contrast with digital repository services developed in the UK). Andy’s comments have been picked up by Stephen Downes, who has added some of his slides to Slideshare.

I’ve also been uploading a number of my slides. I’ve also embedded some of the slides into pages on my Web site (as has Lorcan Dempsey, another of my former colleagues).

So what are the benefits of this? Is it just the latest Web 2.0 fad, or does it have the provide to provide real benefits?

As an prolific PowerPoint presenter (having given about 250 presentations in my ten years at UKOLN) I am very interested in exploring if it do anything useful for me. My thoughts so far (after a couple of weeks of using Slideshare):

  • It’s good for finding slides on the same topic as yours. It can help my find new & interesting stuff – but I can also find myself sometimes surprised by the simple approach by companies from whom I’d expect a more sophisticated understanding (NOTE after pointing out the flaws in this presentation, I subsequently discovered that the presentation had been removed – BK, 28022007). To be fair, though, in this case I don’t have the context of how this slide was used or the target audience.
  • The comments feature seems to have real potential. I’ve already started to receive a few comments, and I’ve notice how this feature can also be used as a teaching aid.
  • It’s good to get greater exposure to my slides. As Paul Miller has said, get the data out to where the users are; don’t wait for the users to come to you.
  • The statistics feature is also useful.
  • As I described recently Slideshare can be used to quickly upload slides for use on-the-fly at events (in my case, when chairing a session at a Wiki workshop I had 2 minutes before the start of a talk to upload the speaker’s slides, to enable a remote user to view the slides while listening to the speaker over Skype. No time for FTPing and VPNing – but no problem in clicking the upload button and stating the URL when my introduction to the speaker was over).

As mentioned, I have also embedded the slides on pages on my Web site. I’m not convinced that I’ll want to do this on a regular basis, but it does demonstrate the potential – and perhaps those who may have reservations about being seen to make use of a third party service might appreciate this feature.

Perhaps the most important benefit of services such as Slideshare for those involved in Web development work is to gain a better understanding of the positive (and negative) aspects of such services, and to feed this into local development work. So I’d recommend use of Slideshare by anyone involved in developing institutional repositories – if you are going to develop similar services in-house, you’ll need to be able to compete with such services, otherwise you may find your users have no interest i using your service.

Anyone else using Slideshare – or have any thoughts on its strengths and weaknesses?

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