TITLE: Your Occasional Reminder to Use Plain Text Whenever Possible AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: May 23, 2016 1:55 PM DESC: ----- BODY: The authors of Our Lives, Encoded found that they had lost access to much of their own digital history to the proprietary data formats of long-dead applications:
Simple text files have proven to be the only format interoperable through the decades. As a result, they are the only artifacts that remain from my own digital history.
I myself have lost access to many WordPerfect files from the '80s in their original form, though I have been migrating their content to other formats over the years. I was fortunate, though, to do most of my early work in VMS and Unix, so a surprising number of my programs and papers from that era are still readable as they were then. (Occasionally, this requires me to dust off troff to see what I intended for them to look like then.) However, the world continues to conspire against us. Even when we are doing something that is fundamentally plain text, the creators of networks and apps build artificial barriers between their services.
One cannot simply transfer a Twitter profile over to Facebook, or message a Snapchat user with Apple's iMessage. In the sense that they are all built to transmit text and images, these platforms aren't particularly novel, they're just designed to be incompatible.
This is one more reason that you will continue to find me consorting in the ancient technology of email. Open protocol, plain text. Plenty of goodness there, even with the spam. -----