Document-sharing site Scribd has a new trick up its sleeve that will make whatever you're viewing on the site a little more public. That is, if you feel like broadcasting your reading habits to the world.
The new feature is called Readcasting, and it's an evolution of the social-sharing options found on most sites. You can set the site to post your reading activity to Facebook and Twitter. That's pretty standard, though. Not standard: once you've set your log-ins for each network, there's an option to have Scribd automatically share what you're reading with others.
The science behind this is fairly simple. You will, for example, not autosend a tweet that you're reading something on the site, until you actually have been scrolling through that document for 15 seconds. That means that if you click on something, read it for a second or two, then move on, it will never be recorded as having been read. This is similar to how software like iTunes will still count video content as unwatched, if you just tune in for just a brief segment.
Along with Readcasting, the site is also one of the launch partners with Facebook's new open-graph initiative, which was announced Wednesday morning. The upgraded "like" feature is similar to the existing Facebook favoriting formula, but far more permanent--something Scribd's CEO Trip Adler told CNET via a phone interview that he hopes will lead to far more traffic and discovery of new content.
As for the existing share buttons, which also let users share to Facebook and Twitter, alongside e-mail and embedding codes, Adler said they will continue to coexist with the new Readcast options. But it might not be that way for long. Adler said the company is just going to keep an eye on whether those share buttons are still getting used in order to see if it's worth keeping them around.
I am a bit curious to see whether users are willing to enable more than one of these three networks in the Readcasting options--and whether Scribd will expand it to other services. While spammy and on the verge of creepy, the idea of having whatever I'm reading automatically sent out as an alert to others can be a big convenience, compared to having to go through the motions of clicking the sharing buttons or copying over links.