Friday, February 8, 2008

Cool Tool

Lately I’ve been looking for a way to host hardcopy documents online. Several or my articles about native plants and gardening have been published in magazines, and I wanted to give the public access to the good information available there – with the publisher’s permission of course.

My first thought was that I would just reformat the word document I had submitted to the publisher, and make a new post on the blog. However, after a couple of posts, I decided that the effort was way too time consuming, and the end result was a sad facsimile of the actual glossy magazine spread. At least for the time being, professional layout in a magazine trumps what can be done by amateurs (me) with free tools on the internet.

Next, I decided to scan the actual magazine into a multiple page .pdf file and upload it. The scanning takes just a few minutes, but finding a way to upload the file to my blog was a bit more challenging. I decided I would need to find another location to host these documents, and provide a link from the blog to the host site.

Enter Scribd. A startup from Silicon Valley, Scribd aspires to be a massive library of online documents published by individuals and organizations. Already over a quarter million people are using of this cool tool. Unlike other document sharing tools like Google Docs or the upcoming Microsoft Office Live Workspace, Scribd is not focused on collaboration so much as information distribution.

I have already uploaded several and I can either provide a link to the document Native in the City - Georgia Gardening Nov 2005

or embed code here that will display the document. Like this…

Documents can be available for download or not, public or private (viewed only by those you invite) and may be designated as common domain, creative commons license (requires attribution and may have other restrictions such as no commercial reuse), or protected by traditional copyright.

Four ways writers can use this tool

  1. Create an online portfolio for agents and publishers to review
  2. Share a draft with your illustrator, copy editor, readers, etc.
  3. Keep an offsite archive of published documents and works-in-progress in case the house burns down or floods.
  4. Provide your mother with an easy way to show all of her friends how successful you are