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RISS Review: Slides
Reviewed February 2016

Reviewed February 2016
Kaitlin Springmier, Resident Librarian for Online Learning
University of Chicago
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Slides is a web service to create and display presentations (“decks,” as termed by Slides) directly in your web browser. It uses reveal.js, an open source slides 1framework developed to create seamless web presentations. A great way to preview the features and options in Slides is to view demos on the reveal.js website.

This HTML5-based presentation tool allows useres to create and share presentations with fonts, sharps, transitions, and colors that look great in any modern browser. One of Slides’ best features is its interface, which is sleek and easy to navigate. Most features are summarized in brief tutorial initiated when the user creates her first deck, or can be explored through the site’s extensive knowledgebase. One of the more interesting features is the concept of ‘nesting’ presentation slides, in which slides can be added underneath the main deck timeline. Users might have encountered this feature in other web presentation applications, like Prezi. The feature is useful when adding additional detail underneath a high-level concept.

Additionally, being able to share slide decks online eliminates the need for jump drives, downloading large presentation files, or logging in to cloud storage accounts at public computers. Many users can access the slides at the same time, facilitating the sharing and distribution of presentations to a wide and varied audience. The decks are accessible anywhere (even on mobile devices), anytime as long as you have a wireless connection. Another nice feature is the ability to use one’s smartphone as a remote control for the slide deck.

slides 2Slides operates on a philosophy of sharing and building on others’ ideas and creations. A unique feature of Slide decks is the option to be ‘forked’ (or copied) by any other user. The forked deck visibly references the original deck and promotes its author. The intended use for this feature is templating, however, it can also be used to reference other users’ ideas and presentations.

When considering web applications like Slides, it is always important to consider content ownership and personal identification information. Slides states in its user agreement that it will not rent or sell potentially personally-identifying information to everyone. However, Slides does retain a world-wide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, modify, adapt and publish the content submitted in slides.

Like many online presentation tools, Slides is a ‘freemium’ service that offers 3 pricing plans: Basic (Free), Pro ($7/month), and Team ($14/user/month). Basic users’ decks are all publicly accessible, meaning that presentations must obey copyright law. This can be problematic for instructors who teach from protected images. If instructors wish to use protected images, it is recommended that they invest in a Pro account. Pro accounts allow users to make private decks that are only accessible by link-sharing.

Basic accounts have noted drawbacks. One is that the account privileges do not allow users to export the full deck for more traditional presentation needs, unlike presentation tools Haiku Deck and Google Slides. This can be problematic for saving and archiving presentations. In addition, Slides reserves the right to display advertisements the decks of Basic users, which can be very distracting for presenters and viewers alike.

In the age of information sharing, distributing, and publishing online, Slides is one of many presentation apps to consider, along with Haiku Deck, Prezi, and Google Slides, among others. When comparing Slides with these options, Slides wins with creators savvy in JavaScript, as the open-source API allows users to manipulate templates, add their own features, and brand presentation templates. Users less tech savvy will appreciate the visual editors’ sleek interface, and the speed and simplicity in creating and sharing sleek and modern decks.

However, when considering privacy and sharing issues like copyright, content, and preservation, free web presentation software like Slides fall short. Information professionals should consider how publishing and sharing slideshows on web applications can affect their personal identity and the library’s impact with special regard to these nuanced topics before using or recommending this service to others – unless of course they want to pay for the premium version.