Remember documents? Way back, before broadband, before user-generated content, before video chat, we used computers to… well… play solitaire. But between games, we wrote documents. It was so, um… productive!
Well, documents are sexy again. Scribd is hot. It’s “YouTube for documents.” It’s got an API. Boing Boing likes it.
Its not just hot though, it’s also terribly useful. Upload most any type of document, and they’ll put it on the web. You can tag it, categorize it, and send out the links. You can embed the document in your web page like a YouTube video and they’ll deal with the all the technical mumbo jumbo.
But why is it important? Well, I’m pretty keen on the idea that you can post your skateboarding zine. Why would you still print a zine when you’ve got the web? It’s cool! Paper’s great! Not convinced? Well, you can post all your old zines too. The ones you made with a xerox copier. That’s awesome. Know what’s better?
They’ll scan them for you. For free.
But, wait! There’s more.
It’s especially useful to have a single place to look for a type of information. If I want a video of an ice skating dog, I’m not going to ask Yahoo, I’m going to ask YouTube. (Or maybe I’ll ask Google, ‘cuz they’re really clever and know where to look.) So, get this:
People are uploading their Freedom of Information Act results.
Before Scribd, if I had FOIAed documents I wanted to share with people, I needed to email them. Or put them on my web page, and email a link. And then try to make the page findable by search engines, so that people looking for information might find it. Now I can just upload them to Scribd, and they become instantly findable. (Especially when Google gets even cleverer and starts crawling, or buys, Scribd.)
We all must start doing this now. The next time you make a FOIA request, scan and upload the results. Upload your zine. Mail them your manuscript. Maybe you could… upload your newspaper?