I usually consider myself a video guy, as well as an audio and imaging guy too. You know a New Media Specialist. So a new document publishing service shouldn’t deserve much of my attention. Unless, of course, the system enables the use of video in documents. Well, enter Calameo into the conversation and you might see why I’m excited. First, what Calameo does is allow you to share documents online, just like Flickr for photos and YouTube for videos. You can upload Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, or the equivalent in Open Office documents. PDFs and text files are also allowed. You can make your documents public or private. Once you uploaded a few documents, your Calameo home page will have that familiar file sharing look to it (again, think Flickr or YouTube). From here you have lots of possibilities to share you documents. You can embed thumbnail versions in web pages or you can invite friends via email to view your documents. There’s even a direct publishing link to aggregation services like Delicious. An RSS feed of your publications is also available.
But now for the reason, I am excited. You can embed Flash (FLV) video within documents. You can also embed Flash animations or MP3s as well. However, with video you can create a flexible document that offers all of the advantages of an online document with a video component that helps the document come alive. Viewers can then print out the document (minus the video, of course) and have a hard copy of the how-to instructions, report, or term paper (to offer some examples).
The documents use Flash technology and the viewing of an online document gives a much better experience than a PDF in Adobe Acrobat. You can zoom in and get a more detailed view, and then the view follows your mouse around the screen. It’s a much more intuitive way to see a document online and much more of a pleasure. Videos embedded in pages can be played automatically, or started with a click of the play button (which can get somewhat obscured because the controls are a bit faint). The service is in beta, but you can sign up and get an account right away. As usual I blew by the terms of service so you may want to read them before you find out you are giving away the rights to your document. There is, however, a section to add a Creative Commons license to your publications. They seem to have thought of most everything. Much more play by yours truly is in store for this service, but I can see educators who might want to share documents in a more flexible way, taking advantage of this service.