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Technology Watch Report Preserving the Data Explosion

Technology Watch Report Preserving the Data Explosion

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Published by: miramontes on Jun 02, 2008
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Technology Watch ReportPreserving the Data Explosion: Using PDF
Betsy A. FanningAIIM1100 Wayne Avenue, Suite 1100, Silver Spring, MD 20910 USAbfanning@aiim.org DPC Technology Watch Series Report 08-02
© Digital Preservation Coalition & AIIM 2008
Executive Summary
The introduction of the Internet and desktop computing has transformed the way information ishandled. The Internet placed a new level of urgency on the business world in expecting thatinformation would be made available immediately – much faster than what the paper-basedinformation world could handle. This need for information now led to the transition from a paper-baseddocument centric environment to an environment of electronic documents and electronic email. Thistransition from paper to electronic documents led the way for document file formats like PDF, PortableDocument Format to be introduced. A PDF document is essentially an electronic document that isequivalent to the paper document.This report reviews the use of PDF, Portable Document Format, more specifically, PDF/Archive as anarchival file format to preserve an organization's knowledge. It should be noted that the use of PDF orPDF/Archive alone will not ensure the long-term preservation of electronic documents. WhenPDF/Archive is combined with a comprehensive records management program and formallyestablished records policies and procedures, an organization can be sure that their electronic documentswill be preserved.Electronic documents just like paper-based documents are preserved for reasons beyond why they werecreated. Organizations preserve documents based on their historical value, to preserve theorganization's knowledge, for research, and the uniqueness of the information. Not all informationneeds to be preserved. The archival value of the information must be assessed based upon the contentof the documents being preserved.While focused on PDF and PDF/Archive, this report will address some of the other file formats whichmay be used or considered for archiving electronic documents. It will explore the PDF standards effortsand their suitability to long-term preservation including:
PDF/Universal Access, and
PDF Healthcare.PDF/Archive was developed as a result of numerous organisations needing to be able to preserve theirelectronic documents and be able to access and view the documents at a future time with the documentappearing as it had when it was produced. In order to ensure that the documents could be accessed, itwas important to ensure that the standard addressed the goals of device independence, files being self-contained and self-documenting, and that there would be no restrictions like encryption that wouldimpede the access to the documents.
Given the wide acceptance of PDF, the development of PDF/Archive for long-term preservation of electronic documents is a logical use of the file format. Through the use of PDF/A, organizations canbe sure that their documents will be preserved for the long term. While PDF/A may be a suitable fileformat today for long-term preservation of electronic documents, it should be noted that there may beother file formats introduced in the future that may better serve the needs of an organization. Therefore,organizations should be continually reviewing the available file formats to ensure they have selectedthe best format for their purposes.
PDF, Archive, Preservation, Engineering, File Format, Healthcare, Portable DocumentFormat

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