there's been a bit of excitement about a new application called slideshare. as michael arrington on techcrunch calls it powerpoint + youtube. now it's been my belief that for an application to truly be a noteworthy web 2.0 application it should enhance a user's experience beyond what they might otherwise be able to do.
edward tufte must feel like he's shouting into the wind with this latest powerpoint "enhancement.' tufte has said "powerpoint is evil" because it forces presenters into a format of endless bullets and non-expository statements of 10-20 words per page with an obligatory piece of clip art. i do agree with him that unfortunately the vast majority of presentations made with powerpoint are just as he describes. (usually with some manager or teacher reading word-for-word through the endless bullet points.) however, i am less ready to blame the tool than i am the user.
i strive to use powerpoint as a demonstration tool or, at worst, a set of guideposts for my presentation. i use images, animations and motion to demonstrate or illustrate a concept. for example in a presentation on what newborns know for a learning theory class, i created an animation in which a ball rolled behind a screen. sometimes it came out on the other side, sometimes it didn't. this illustration of a classic perceptual experiment conducted with infants was praised by my audience because it made them "feel" the experience as i was discussing the concept. another slide in the same presentation i played with the looming ball concept (babies will raise their hands when a ball is coming at them evidencing an understanding of distance) just for a bit of fun and to maintain attention. a third slide i used images and motions to explain how categorization develops in a child from 6 - 18 months.
so back to slideshare. after alan levine's glowing review of slideshare, I had to check it out. so i grabbed the powerpoint presentation i just mentioned, signe dup for a slideshare account and uploaded that sucker. the upload interface is very nifty and it didn't take long for my presentation to be fully converted in to a flash presentation ready for viewing and sharing. one of the cool things about slideshare is that you can embed the resulting presentation in a blog or website very easily. like this:
if you take a look at the presentation you'll see that slides 6 (ball and screen illustration), 7 (looming ball), and 11 (demonstration of categorization) don't work. so it dawned on me. they take pps files as well as ppt files so maybe a powerpoint show (pps format) would work. wrong! same damn thing. so the result is that if you do somehow break out of the paradigm of powerpoint usage that tufte blasts, slideshare will bring you right back to it!
while the interface is quite slick on slideshare, it's functionality takes away any positive features powerpoint brings to the table. you can see my full review of slideshare on eelearning wiki, but in short, slideshare might qualify as a web 2.0 application, but it it's a poor example of web2.0.