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October 25, 2006

Real vs. fake sharing

There was an interesting post in the O'Reilly Radar recently, commenting on the notion of real sharing vs. fake sharing, an idea first proposed in Lawrence Lessig's blog and one that I would characterise (somewhat simplistically) as being the difference between making stuff available for re-use vs. making stuff available only to read or view.

By way of example, I always do my best to make my Powerpoint slides available on the Web  - though not necessarily in a particularly timely fashion! :-)  Often, this is done as part of the record of the meeting at which the slides were presented.  It also gives people who were unable to attend the meeting a chance to see what was being said.  More fundamentally though, it is about allowing people to re-use the material in those presentations in whatever way they see fit.

Now, I'll happily accept that I haven't been very explicit about this more fundamental intent - and it could easily be argued that I should have made an appropriate Creative Commons licence clearly visible on the opening slide of each presentation or somesuch.  Nonetheless, sharing my slides with re-use in mind was certainly part of the plan.  (Whether anyone actually sees any value in re-using those slides is, err... a different matter!)

Readers of this blog will know that we have recently been experimenting a little with Slideshare, as an alternative way of making our Eduserv Foundation Powerpoint slides available.  However, one of the issues with this service is that it doesn't provide a way of downloading the original PPT or Open Office file.  Yes, we can use the service to provide a nice view of our slides.  Yes, those slides can be embedded into someone else's Web site.  But the slides themselves can't easily be re-used.  Its an example of fake sharing I think.

As a result, it currently seems better to stick with a local Eduserv Web page for each of our presentations (such as the one for my recent CETIS presentation), containing both a link to the PPT file and an embedded version of the Slideshare viewer.

It would also be nice if Slideshare offered this functionality directly and looking around at various blogs, there are at least some hints that it might be included in future versions.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed...


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My blog entry is quite similar to your observation: "The main problem with SlideShare at this moment, it seems to me, is that it doesn’t enable you to repurpose existing presentations: that is the focus of our work on embedding repository, share and reuse support in powerpoint. Seems like there may be some complementarity here? (Is that even an English word?)" - see http://ariadne.cs.kuleuven.be/wordpress/eduval/?p=152

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