Please do not insult other people's abilities. The fact that some of
us can find something more fun to do than get a document without
embeded form feeds to print properly does not mean that we are less
expert than you.
If a grad student handed me a paper to review formatted in RFC format
I would hand it straight back and tell him to work out how to use Word
or HTML. Here we have a lot of people wasting cycles over precise
adherence to a formatting standard that is rubbish.
If we are going to accept a crappy TXT format then stop griping about
There is a particular view that computing and computer expertise is
some kind of exclusive priesthood and that the objective of those
learned in the craft should be to preserve the obscurity and thus the
value of those skills.
It is a shortsighted view. The best way to maximize the value of a
computing skill is to render it obsolete. Cobol programmers make more
than C++ Jockeys who make more than folk who program in modern
languages like Java, C# and C.
Oh and please no more of the thousand years nonsense. If mankind can
decipher Linear-B after three millenia on the basis of two shopping
lists and an op-ed piece then there is never going to be any problem
with PDF or HTML. The idea that we would lose the ability to process
those formats is simply too ridiculous for words.
On Mon, Jun 29, 2009 at 4:37 PM, David Morris<dwm(_at_)xpasc(_dot_)com> wrote:
The TXT versions do not print on my printer and have not printed
reliably on any printer I have ever owned.
Yes, and that history goes back a couple of decades for me.
Probably says more about ones skills than either the printers one uses or
ASCII as a document interchange format.
I'm sure reading an RFC on a mobile device is important to the community as
a whole. Not!
1000 years from now, it will certainly be easier to recover content from an
ascii 'file' than an html, xml, or pdf 'file' created now. It is probably an
unjustified assumption that 'software' available 1000 years from now will be
able to render today's html, xml, or pdf.
The more tools required to access binary content, the more opportunities for
access denied. ASCII has the advantage that many programs can provide
adequate access to data encoded in ASCII. It also has the advantage that
authors don't feel compelled to create pretty documents which may increse
the visual appeal but do nothing to enhance the content. On the other hand,
more advanced formats allow for decent technical drawings and
electronic references to related content.
Striking the right balance between the efficiencies of minimalist formatting
and the capabilities of richer formatting will be a difficult challenge. A
primary requirement should be maintaining access in the widest possible set
of computing environments. The adoption of modern technologies is not in and
of itself justification for change.
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