UMBC ebiquity
We’re the children of shoemakers

We’re the children of shoemakers

Tim Finin, 1:00pm 11 May 2006

I’m looking forward to attending WWW 2006 later this month. Today I got a message from the event management company coordinating the conference with some “important last minute information” including when registration would be open, where to park, etc. — all of the unusual details attendees might be interested in. That’s good!

However, it came as a 3,200,000 byte attached Microsoft Word document. That’s bad!!

It’s also very ironic, given that this is a conference devoted to information sharing using the Web and its non-proprietary standards.

I could have received a 2K message with a few sentences and a link to a web page. That web page could have offered versions in English and other languages along with links to more information. There might even have been machine interpretable metadata to load into my calendar.

Instead I got a bloated document in a virus-prone, proprietary format that can only be read on some computers and then only if I had purchased expensive software. Forget about reading it on my phone. But the news isn’t all bad — at least I know the name of the person who created and edited the file and how many revisions she made and how long it took her.


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