11.21.07

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Quick Mention: OpenDocument Format and the Digital Preservation Advantage

Posted in Formats, IBM, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 11:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When ‘standards’ are designed and built to expire

A couple of new articles are worth pointing out for their value in analysing the importance of preservation. This is the long-term effect which tends to escape many people’s consideration when assessing the quality of one standard or another.

The first articles is quite broad in terms of scope. Its key argument is that one must look far ahead into the future.

These archives have proven their value — for example, scientists are still using data archives from the Voyager missions of the 1970s. The concept of archiving is simple, but to do it right, there is much to be considered.

[...]

Preserving data for the future is a challenge for everyone. Many of us have old floppy disks containing documents we’d like to be able to use at some point, but what will happen when we try to load those documents in 2010, especially if some of files were written with programs from 1995?

The more relevant writeup to consider here comes from Rob Weir, who speaks about PDF and explains possible relationships with ODF, e.g.:

Suppose you are in an ODF editor and you have a “Save for archiving…” option that would save your ODF document as normal, but also generate a PDF version of it and store it in the zip archive along with ODF’s XML streams. Then digitally sign the archive along with a time stamp to make it tamper-proof. You would need to define some additional access conventions, but you could end up with a single document that could be loaded in an ODF editor (in read-only mode) to allow examination of the details of spreadsheet formulas, etc., as well as loaded in a PDF reader to show exactly how it was formated.

Looking back at older articles, this one from Forbes contains some very truthful bits.

So far there’s no business case for digital preservation–in fact, for software makers like Microsoft, planned obsolescence is the plan.

“The reality is that it’s in companies’ interest that software should become obsolete and that you should have to buy every upgrade,” Rose says. We could be on the cusp of a turning point, though, in the way businesses and their customers think about digital preservation. “Things will start to change when people start losing all of their personal photos,” Rose said.

Older bits with focus on data preservation and document formats:

Long-standing, long-lasting, and eternally-accessible data comes at a cost. If governments and businesses are unwilling to invest in openness of their infrastructure, then they are simply procrastinating what leads to unavoidable penalties and miserable losses.

OOXML is a monopoly

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