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Re: [BOAI] Formats for electronic dissemination
From: "Michael J. O'Donnell" <michael_odonnell AT acm.org>
Well, first I agree with Steven Harnad that achieving open archiving is much more important than the choice of format. Can we coin a proverb: "PDF in the archive is better than perfect format deleted"? But, ↵ since I am expert on formats, I have to respond: Mike Brown wrote: >>and two, they are too often in columns making them difficult to read >>online. >> >> > >This is not the technology at fault - this is the preference of the >producer of the document. > It's partly the fault of the choice of "technology" (that is, ↵ format). PDF is a page layout format, not a structured text format. It requires the producer to make choices that are much better left to readers, in particular because different readers have different needs. It should be the reader, rather than the producer, who is making layout choices. Supposing that we can choose which format to put in the archive, we should choose formats that provide maximum flexible utility to readers. We may enumerate some things that readers might like to do with documents: display them, search them, perform statistical analyses on them, display them in huge fonts because of low visual acuity (magnifying a 10-point layout does a very bad job of this), browse them audibly (which is much more than just having them read), ... But the point is not to support particular anticipated uses. Rather, the point is to support maximum flexibility, and avoid foreclosing uses that will be invented in the future. Paradoxically, it is quite possible to evaluate the inherent flexibility of a format without knowing the precise use to which that flexibility will contribute. I wrote up some analysis of known types of formats, and the article is openly (but not very well organizedly) archived at http://people.cs.uchicago.edu/~odonnell/Scholar/Technical_papers/Electronic_Journal/description.html Mike O'Donnell The University of Chicago
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