COMPLEX TECH: Scribd's iPaper competes directly with Adobe's

In a recent post about e-Discovery issues and text messages, I used the embedded flash widget to allow visitors to read an Opinion by a District Court without the need to fire up Acrobat or download a file. now has a competitor of sorts in the field of flash-embedded documents, compliments of Scribd.  Scribd is "a Silicon Valley startup creating technology that makes it easy to share documents online."  In February of this year, Scribd launched iPaper, a flash-based tool for presenting documents on the web.  Scribd offers the iPaper format through its the Scribd service, which, among other things, lets users:

  • Upload documents in many different formats, including Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word, Adobe PDF, plain text, HTML, PowerPoint, Excel, OpenOffice, JPEG, and more
  • Embed your documents in a blog, Facebook profile, or other external website with your fonts, images, and formatting fully intact
  • Host a document at Scribd with its own unique URL
  • Use unlimited storage
  • Obtain fast indexing by Google and other major search engines will ensure that content is easily found by just about everyone
  • Keep certain documents private or share with a limited number of authorized persons
  • Automatically convert published content into PDF, Word, and plain text

Scribd is attempting to build a community around document sharing and searching.  Whether that will be successful remains to be seen.  And offers a number of collaboration and authoring tools not yet found on the Scribd service.  Thus, in all fairness to both companies, Scribd is not precisely a competitor to  The direct point of comparison lies in the ability to use flash to embed document images into web pages and upload and store documents for sharing in other ways.  In the meantime, take a look at an e-Discovery Order in the iPaper format:

Read this document on Scribd: 2008 03-20 Order Flagg-v-Detroit-protocol2

Again, if you don't have flash installed, or are viewing this post through a feed, a pda, or another method that does not utilize flash technology, you will not see the embedded object.  For those viewers, here is the direct link to the Order on Scribd's service.

UPDATE:  After checking the appearance of the Order on the blog, I noticed that ads were inserted into the document.  When I created an account on Scribd, I configured the account so that ads would not be inserted into any documents.  While it might be a simple mistake, I would not like to think that my choice for ads was overwritten by Scribd.  I'd be interested in hearing if anyone else using Scribd has noticed this issue.