Scribd, the document sharing and hosting service, has rebranded and tweaked its Facebook application this morning. Its new name is Share Homework, and the goal, according to Scribd, is to use it as a go-between for students and teachers to share documents with each other, and to help students do something about the documents that have been sitting unused for years on their hard drives.
There's no real changes, besides a tweaked user interface and a new name (from the previous moniker of "Facebook Apps"). The tool is still a super-simple way to share documents and little more social than what Google Docs and Spreadsheets can offer, short of making the files public and sharing the link on your profile page. If you've seen or used Zoho's Facebook application (review), the idea is similar--everyone can see and read the documents you've shared without leaving Facebook, although unlike Zoho, you can't go in and make edits.
Scribd throws in a handful of nice features, like download links for multiple formats and a button to hear a document spoken aloud (although I couldn't get this to work within Facebook). There are helpful features, like tagging and categories, and everyone else can sort your documents in the community document pool. Users can comment on your documents as well. Best of all, uploading a document through the Facebook application will put it in the same public document pool found on Scribd.com.
I'd like to see Scribd add a way to link up several documents, to show thematic connections. For example, if you had a group of twenty documents about Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. It would be handy to be able to sort documents by theme, course, and school. The current presumption is that the user will enable this by tagging documents properly. A far easier solution would be to pull the person's school information and some other key details from the document's metadata, and then convert it into tags for grouping. This would make for some fascinating visualizations and browsing tools, and less work for users.