[Taxacom] Proposed ICZN amendments on electronic publishing

Karl Magnacca kmagnacca at wesleyan.edu
Thu Dec 4 14:05:06 CST 2008

On Thu, December 4, 2008 2:53 pm, Richard Pyle wrote:
> I strongly suspect that the three necessary ingredients (hardware,
> software, electricity) will persist as long as human society persists.
> File format issues are mostly a Red Herring.  That lesson has already
> been well-learned.  Bottom line: important e-documents, and the tools
> necessary to read them, will be carried forward.

This is my real problem with electronic publishing, and why I am opposed
to it (for now; I can be convinced otherwise).  I agree that the
documents themselves will be carried forward, but I don't think the file
format issue is a red herring, or that it's a lesson that's been
well-learned.  The big problem is that the de facto standard is pdf, a
proprietary format that can't be easily reverse-engineered to display
correctly if you have the file but not Acrobat(as far as I know; maybe
I'm wrong?), or even have the text extractable from a non-functional
file (and of course some don't have "text" at all, just an image of the

I've already got pdf documents from five years ago that refuse to open. 
I haven't tried that hard to recover them, so maybe they could be
repaired, but I'd rather not be taking that kind of risk on things like
descriptions that are supposed to last at least as long as paper

Karl Magnacca
Postdoctoral Researcher
Department of Zoology
Trinity College, Dublin 2

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