Richard Gaskin ambassador at fourthworld.com
Mon May 14 12:24:33 EDT 2018

Bob Sneidar wrote:

 >> On May 12, 2018, at 13:08 , Richard Gaskin wrote:
 >> But times have changed.  We rarely kill trees just to read anymore,
 >> so the bounds of a printed page are approaching meaninglessness.
 > https://www.quora.com/How-much-trees-are-cut-down-for-paper
 > You may need to think again.

Maybe, but I have to admit I'm missing the point there.  That's a 
discussion of the tonnage of trees needed to produce a smaller tonnage 
of paper.  It does not suggest the number of trees needed is zero, and 
doesn't address at all the degree to which reading electronic media has 
displaced many formerly-print-only venues.

Or are you saying you printed my post before reading it? ;)

Later, you wrote:
 > Document Management systems use PDFs almost exclusively. I think PDF
 > is here to stay.

Yes, the need to read PDFs will be with us for quite a while, as I keep 
acknowledging.  But market inertia does not make a format usable; 
indeed, the scope of the reading impairment imposed by a fixed-size 
format in a multi-device world is the point here.  If PDFs were seldom 
used this would be a small problem not worth mentioning.

My father was the Assistant County Recorder for the city we grew up in, 
and one of the key projects during his tenure was the city's 
modernization of its record storage, at long last moving from print to 
the radical new technology of the day which would save everything: 

Many city governments and other large orgs were doing it.  At the time 
it made good sense.  And having undertaken considerable expense to do 
it, many still maintain microfilm readers to this day in order to access 
those archives.

The only constant is change. No matter how useful a given technology is 
at any given moment, that moment will pass.

None of this can be truly future-proofed, but archiving can be greatly 
future-resistant to the degree that a format allows access to content 
flexibly and in full fidelity.

EPub is HTML, for which tooling is plentiful, formatting explicit, and 
content separate.

PDF is a mish mash of various layout algorithms, sometimes vector and 
sometimes raster, with many different ways to express layout, all of 
them in binary, intermingled with content, and stored with a surprising 
variety of compression methods.

Future-resistance requires round-tripping, but PDF is designed for 
permanent embodiment.  And FWIW in a format controlled by one company.

It was a fine choice when it was created.  But a lot's happened in 28 years.

Indeed, it was only about 15 years after my father's team completed 
their microfilm migration until it was made obsolete in favor of digital 

  Richard Gaskin
  Fourth World Systems
  Software Design and Development for the Desktop, Mobile, and the Web
  Ambassador at FourthWorld.com                http://www.FourthWorld.com

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