I decided to interview today Jared Friedman, the co-creator of Scribd (announced in the Bulgarian media as “the paper youtube“, and “a [potentially] very interesting place“. Not many people know, that there’s some Bulgarian connection in Jared. See for yourself:
Q: How come with the idea (cliche, I know, but people want to know)?
A: My cofounder Trip and I had some documents on our computers (schoolwork, mostly) that we wanted to publish online, and we were frustrated by how difficult it was to do that. We hit on the idea of creating a website that made it really, really easy to publish your docs to the world.
Q: In the beginning, when I tried the service, you were not supporting the openoffice.org formats; what made you change this?
A: Popular demand! We had so many requests for OpenOffice support. I wish we’d added it sooner.
Q: I see that you are one (of the not so many) companies that explains the DMCA in a normal way – what made you do that?
A: Well I’m glad you think it’s a normal way. We think it’s important for our users to understand our copyright policy and American
copyright law as it applies to Scribd. We try to make our website communicate that information.
Q: There are hundreds of thousands of ideas today on the Internet. What do you think scribd would do for the users?
A: There are two sides of Scribd. First, we hope that Scribd will become a great way for people to publish things which they have written. Second, we hope that Scribd will become a giant library of documents that will be useful to many people as they search for information.
Q: Where do you see yourself in one year? Where will scribd be?
A: In the next year, we plan to grow Scribd in many ways. First and foremost, we hope to grow the size of our library to as many documents as possible. We hope to add a lot of social features to Scribd, and to greatly refine our document conversion and displaying process. There are a lot of other exciting ideas, but I can’t really talk about them yet.
Q: How important do you think sharing of information today is? Do you think that this could change the world in a way not seen before?
A: Absolutely. The sharing of information has become ever more important. Websites like Wikipedia, Flickr, and YouTube have
demonstrated the power of allowing people to share content democratically, for free, in an open environment. We hope that Scribd will continue to prove the impact of this model.
Q: When people upload documents, they can choose the license, which is great (there’s even Bulgarian language selection!), but why is the default copyright CC by-nc (I like it, I am just asking)?
A: We made our best guess at how people uploading documents might want their content to be used. We think people generally like it when others share and remix their content, but that usually do want to be cited, and they certainly don’t want others selling their work without telling them.
Q: Do you work with Creative Commons? What are you relations with them? Do they support your work? Do you support theirs?
A: Yes, we’ve been talking to some representatives of Creative Commons about how to better integrate Creative Commons licenses with Scribd. They’ve been very nice and helpful so far, and we hope we can continue to build this relationship. The guys at Scribd are all big fans of what Creative Commons has done, and we’ve supported their licenses from the beginning.
Q: What software is used to make Scribd?
A: Scribd proudly runs on mostly open source software. We use the fabulous Ruby on Rails web framework, MySQL, Apache, Memcached, Monit, Mongrel, and CentOS. We’re very grateful to the people who produced those wonderful things and gave them back to the community.
Q: For the Bulgarian users, it would be interesting to point the fact about your “Bulgarian connection”. Can you tell us what it is?
A: Sure, my younger sister Remi was adopted from Bulgaria. Ever since my family has been involved in the Bulgarian community, with my mother [Victoria Schonfeld] becoming Honorary Consul of Bulgaria to New York.
Thank you for your responses, Jared. Good luck with Scribd!