I’m usually never a fan of ‘X for Y’ ideas, be it a ‘digg for cooking’ or ‘Google for travel info.’ I think once an idea has worked in own niche, especially if it’s succeeded well beyond anything usual, it’s not going to work in another. That said, I recently came across Scribd which is roughly a “YouTube/Digg for documents/presentations/spreadsheets,” but they’ve taken just the core idea and built a wholly different thing around it.
As they put it, Scribd is an ‘online library of uploaded documents.’ Users can upload a few types of files (currently accepting .pdf, .doc, .ppt, .xls and .txt) which are then published on the Scribd website and which can then be shared to other users, found using the search feature by anyone, and basically put online for archivation (there’s a word!) and basic storage. Throughout the site, the files are made viewable through an embedded document viewer which works and mixes seemlessly into pages (nothing like an Adobe Reader implementation which seems to crash and thrash the browser).
To add to the simple concept of putting text-based media online, what they’ve done is basically taken from YouTube and Digg the excitement a user gets from exploring and discovering through published media. There’s a ‘today’s popular documents’ section on the homepage which tracks the documents that managed to get the most views for the day (and to supplement this is a page which lets you organise by different categories, like ‘most discussed,’ etc.) but what’s more, users can vote and comment (digg-style) on specific documents.
Browsing through the current section of top-rated stuff (here’s an awesome awesome essay someone put up), I have to say, I’m nearly addicted to Scribd as I was to YouTube in its early days. They’ve greatly and successfully managed to take all the good bits out of already-developed concepts and put it as a new package for something that we’ve yet to explore. This may not be the whole YouTube thing again with docs and presentations, but it sure brings back the excitement on a smaller-scale.