Regarding the Byte article on Adobe's "Carousel" product and its concern
solely with physical layout, Peter Graham writes:
> Looking for the half-full glass, I see here a potential means of
> document distribution which allows the preservation of the author's
> intent (let's set aside deconstructivist issues here for the moment, if
> we may). In other words, it offers a means of document security; what I
> am calling electronic preservation.
> This is a tool we are in need of in the ephemeral electronic
> environment; the ability to know that the footnote reference to a
> document that I just made will be relevant to you--i.e. that the
> document still exists in the form I read and am writing about--is
> important for scholarly communication.
I agree that we need such a tool, but Carousel doesn't sound like it
would do it very well.
1) Intention is not limited to the intent to create a physical page.
Page description languages and Carousel-ish successors lose a lot of
information that a writer may provide, particularly when not using a
WYSIWYG word processor.
2) The problem of preservation as P.G. refers to it breaks down into two
more specific problems:
--- security: knowing that you've got the right version of the document;
--- reference system: knowing what number a footnote wound up with, or
what page a sentence appeared on.
Neither is addressed in any special way by the Carousel scheme.
Security requires something quite different---a checksum or encryption
mechanism that would allow you to know you've got the document you think
you've got. Reference systems can be better incorporated in SGML
documents than in print-oriented documents that just deal with page and
footnote numbers as pieces of type like any others, and don't have any
indication of their special significance.
(I should say that my claims about Carousel are based on the description
in the NY Times some months back. It sounded like a marginally enhanced
kind of PostScript that was better about portability of documents
because it was smarter about, say, substituting fonts for ones you lack.
It could be argued that for the preservation of intent about physical
appearance PostScript as such is actually better.)
Department of English, Brandeis University