On Mon, 2009-06-15 at 12:37 +0200, Mike Taylor wrote:
> I would appreciate any comments that anyone on this list has on the
> likelihood that PDF will be unreadable in 100 years.

The problem with projections such as these are that we have very little
empiric evidence to build on. The classic fallacy is to look at any old
format that is now hard to read and use that as a guide. The problem
with this form of extrapolation is that Old Format X wasn't very
widespread in the general population, simply because the average person
did not have a computer then.

Forwarding to 2009, everyone and their dog produces a huge amount of
PDFs and JPEGs, to name two contenders for "they will be readable for
the next 1000 years".

When there's an ungodly amount of information in a given format:
Information not limited to a specific scientific field or area of
expertise, we, as a society, want to be able to read it. Forever. 

Your friend's argument that the only PDFs in the year 2070 will be 30
years old might be true in its premise, but I don't agree on his
conclusion. Why wouldn't we be interested in information from the
beginning of the millennium when we reach 2070?

That is, of course, with the premise that our society does not collapse
so that we can't maintain our current technology level. In that case
we're talking bit loss as well, which is a whole other discussion.

- Toke Eskildsen (_not_ a specialist in archival)