Whiteboarding tools associated with virtual conference solutions frequently don't offer an easy way to record what's being written down, or distribute it elsewhere after the fact. And for presenting, we're often limited to PowerPoints, video, or audio recordings--or sometimes a hodgepodge of all three at once. Enter Sketchcast, a happy medium between voice and whiteboard recording that the service coins as "Sketchcasts." Users can create their own audio-enriched doodle sessions for all to see, and embed them on blogs or Web sites to distribute their work.
Sketchcast creator Richard Ziade drummed up the idea after finding it cumbersome to spend the time blogging out his ideas, and equated his experiences in meeting rooms, with the potential for blog readership. At least that's the concept, anyway. If Sketchcasting has anything in common with Podcasting (which it does), both require your audience to absorb content in a linear fashion, which is far slower than giving someone several paragraphs of writing that they can peruse at their leisure. There's also the problem of indexing and searching the content, which (for now) is only made possible with tags and user-submitted descriptions.
As a tool, Sketchcast gives users a massive color pallet to choose from, along with an eraser and text tool. All three of the tools can be summoned or dismissed in an instant with keyboard shortcuts, which is a big help to power users. The recording feature is also incredibly simple to use, and can be paused at any time if you need time to draw out your next slide. When finished, the tool gives you the standard smattering of links, including a simple URL, e-mail link, and embed code. Videos are broken down into four categories, including one just for tutorials. The service also is also set up to support user ratings (on a five-star scale), and comments that show up just like they do on YouTube.
I'd definitely recommend giving Sketchcast a spin, if only to play with its editor, which is incredibly simple and fun to use (Ed: It requires registration to use.) As for its worth as a blogging tool, I can only say that preparing a proper Sketchcast takes more of my, and likely more of my reader's, time, which is hardly a suitable replacement for text--as much as it is a complement to whatever is being written. I've embedded an example Sketchcast after the break.
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