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).
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 buy topiramate generic 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.