socialseries Web 2.0

6. SlideShare

I like SlideShare. I’ll admit to that little bias right off the bat. SlideShare doesn’t provide tools to create slide decks or to edit them, but it does provide tools that make a vibrant and interesting community space out of presentations! The real purpose behind SlideShare is to share information – what’s more Web 2.0 than that? By uploading a slide deck to SlideShare, you can control who sees it via privacy options, what they can do with it via embedded Creative Commons licensing and where on the Internet it goes via an easy bit of copy’n’paste embed code.
Once you’ve created your slide deck in either PowerPoint, OpenOffice or Keynote (or any presentation software that outputs in those file formats or PDF), you can upload it to your Slidespace. There is a 50MB limit to the size of the presentation, but I’ve found that just about any presentation will work with a bit of tweaking (I’ve seen presentations on there that run more than 225 slides long, with some graphics thrown in, so 50MB is pretty generous) or with an export to compressed PDF, if necessary.
Once your slide deck has been uploaded, you can link to it, embed it just about anywhere, and get great statistics on it. You can share it with your contacts that you have in the SlideShare community or you can share it with the whole world using the site’s privacy options. You can even create an audio track to go with your slide deck and synchronize it to your slides for a narrated presentation or a slide show with musical accompaniment. To create the slidecast that I’ve linked to above, I downloaded the free Audacity audio recorder and used it to speak while I was viewing my slideshow on my home computer. After I was finished (which took about 10 tries… I hate the sound of myself speaking!), I uploaded the MP3 file that Audacity created to my personal web space and “linked” the two in SlideShare (by entering the URI of my MP3 file and letting SlideShare get it from my web server – there is no uploading of audio files to the SlideShare service. Not sure why…) and then proceeded to use a very simple, drag-and-drop interface to sync up the voice and visual parts of my presentation.
Why would a library want to use SlideShare? Individual librarians are already using it to post presentation slide decks made for various conferences all around the world. If you can’t make it to a conference, chances are you can find at least some of the slides used during sessions uploaded to SlideShare. You can also share your presentations with patrons who might not have been able to make it to a computer class, author event or other program that used a presentation slide deck. Others use it as a sort of self-guided learning tool. If you have a topic you would like to find more about, do a quick search for it on SlideShare. You will certainly find at least one presentation on that topic that you can view and get information from. Still others use it as a basis for inspiration (or theft) for their own presentations. Be sure to check the Creative Commons licensing, though, before you steal slides or slide shows from other users – some are perfectly willing to let you do it, as long as you credit them, others have reserved all rights and would frown on you grabbing a couple of their slides to use in your presentation! (Just FYI – all my slides are always CC licensed to allow anyone to use them with just a quick credit to me somewhere in the presentation)
Like most of the Web 2.0 tools I gush on about, this one has a pretty solid sense of community. You can create a profile for yourself, “friend” others so that you can see what they have been uploading, favoriting and commenting upon and you can join groups that give you a way to get your slides seen as a part of a larger body of work on a particular subject. Again, as with most Web 2.0 tools, tagging is a big part of making your presentations findable and usable! When you start uploading your slide decks and slidecasts, be sure to tag them liberally!
Again, the statistics that SlideShare offers is a big draw to the service. Not only can you keep excellent records of how many people are viewing your library’s presentations (and whether they are viewing them at or as an embed in your site – or even which embed is getting all the views!), you can also see what is popular – what slide decks people are marking as their “favorites” (marking a presentation as a favorite is a great way to bookmark slide decks for later viewing, too), what presentations people are downloading, embedding into their sites and commenting upon. All these stats are available to you for free!!
If you create any sort of presentation for your library – consider uploading it to SlideShare. Let other librarians, your patrons and the whole world know about the cool things you are doing. Even if you don’t create your own presentations – take a look at other folks’ stuff. Learn what is going on and what neat things people are doing at their institutions!

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