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It is encouraging to see the continued adoption of the PDF/A standard, ISO 19005-1: 2005, Document management Electronic document file format for long-term preservation Part 1: Use of PDF 1.4 (PDF/A-1). In the United States, we have held a couple of very successful workshops to promote the standard. These workshops were attended by representatives from all levels of government, healthcare industry, manufacturing, utilities, universities and archives. Organizations worldwide are struggling with how to preserve their electronic documents. ISO 19005-1 and soon to be released, ISO 19005-2 are the answer for these organizations.
As you may remember, we are developing this standard in parts so that organizations who adopt the use of PDF/A for long-term preservation of their electronic documents will be assured that their files will remain valid conforming PDF/A files even as new parts or revisions to the standard are introduced. The first part of ISO 19005 was developed specifically for static documents or e-paper. With part two of the standard, we are continuing to address static documents while updating the standard to comply with ISO 32000-1, the PDF standard, and enhancing a few of the features of a PDF/A file. In response to the many requests for the ability to embed files in a PDF/A file and still maintain the PDF/A conformance, the ISO working group began work earlier this year on a version of PDF/A which will allow for embedded files. We are at the early stages of this embedded files project with a new work item ballot issued to the ISO committee member countries.
As we look to the future, AIIM in cooperation with the PDF/A Competence Center will continue efforts to promote PDF/A bringing a heightened awareness of the standard to organizations worldwide. We look forward to continuing to develop and evolve the PDF/Archive standard to meet the growing needs of the organizations that have adopted it and look forward to seeing more products announced that comply with the standard.
Betsy A. Fanning, AIIM
Italian legislation introduced digital archiving of legal documents in the middle of the nineties, ahead of national and international experiences and best practice definition. This created a long season during which software houses and final users spent a lot of time and energy in experiments and research. As well as this, at that time stable and widespread formats and standards were not yet available.
Since then Italian law makers, with several new measures that slightly confused people in the market, have tried to define more clearly what the requirements are for proper digital archiving and the related process needed to stabilize documents content (Digital Signature and Time Stamp) to make them compliant with long term archiving. ANORC was founded in 2007 with the aim to facilitate the development of the digital archiving market through ongoing dialogue between final users, providers and legislators.
Ever since PDF/A appeared ANORC has promoted and supported its adoption for short and long term digital archiving. At the moment PDF/A is being examined by legislators and it will be introduced as a standard reference, in the new up coming legislation.
Over the last year some important long term digital archiving projects have been activated with ANORC members cooperation in health service organizations as well as in Public Administration requiring both an time unlimited availability of archived documents. In all those projects PDF/A has been strongly recommended and often adopted. A dedicated ANORC team, involving major national filing clerk experts from several Italian universities, is finalizing a technical rule proposal (DPCM Albo on-line) which aims to define the best practice for archiving any measure approved by Italian Public Administration. It will indicate PDF/A as a recommended standard to use in such archiving processes.
Other important organization (i.e. DigitPA) are investigating the way to introduce international standard like PDF/A as mandatory requirement digital archiving assuring a transnational document availability.
Massimo Maronati, ANORC
More and more standards are spanning the world as vendors, consultants and end-users understand and cherish their value. Since its inception in 2005, PDF/A has established itself on the forefront of the drive towards a standard data preservation file format, and is a casebook on how a standard should be supported.
cdm Europe (Content and Document Management Europe) is a relatively new organization which has set a goal of bringing together information management associations, universities and other interested parties to allow cross-border cooperation, exchange of knowledge and communal activities in the field of information management. We were very pleased to welcome the PDF/A Competence Center as our first official member after our founding. The PDF/A Competence Center has already shown the way forwards, demonstrating how international cooperation, exchange of information and working towards a common goal are necessary to achieve ones own goals effectively.
Going forwards, and with the aids of our members, cdm Europe wants to focus our activities in a pan-European way. In addition to PDF/A-2, we have great hopes for activities like CMIS and MoReq2010, as well as the new challenges of the continued information explosion as represented by Social Media and Web 2.0/Enterprise 2.0. An open exchange of experiences, information and best practise as well as the active support of cross-border cooperation is necessary. We are very proud to be present at the 4th International PDF/A Conference in Rome and look forward to the open discussions about PDF/A-1 and -2, as well as other standards dealing with best practise.
Hanns Köhler-Krüner, cdm Europe
Just recently I heard that the sun will cease to exist as we know it today in about 4.5 billion year (give and take a few years). Therefore, some scientists are working on a plan to move us all to Mars. But first they need to create an atmosphere on Mars, so we dont freeze to death. That should be accomplished by smashing an enormous asteroid into Mars, causing the temperature to rise 3 degrees Celsius. The sudden rise in temperature would melt about a trillion tons of water, which is enough water to form a lake covering an area three times the size of Rome.
The downside of this project is that it will still take many thousands of years afterwards before the idea of terraforming Mars can be fully realized. When I heard all this, I found it to be very interesting. But the first thing that came to my mind was this question: How do they store all their documentation for all these years? So I forgot about the fact that life will end on Earth, and started thinking about what kind of plan the scientists might have in place to ensure that their documents can be read in thousands of years. None would be my guess but it is only a guess.
Many of us face the same challenges as these mad scientists. Most of us dont have to worry about saving our private and corporate documents for thousand or millions of years, but one day we will have to have a plan.
Think about how much information and knowledge from the past we still benefit from today. Documents, scrolls, cave paintings, stone carvings etc. have been valuable for us to understand and learn from our ancestors. These are all media that easily can beat the duration of todays media. What will happen in the future, if the knowledge of today disappears? Nobody these days is sitting there, chopping 0s and 1s into media that are expected to last for thousands of years. And that is exactly why we all, corporate and private, need to have a plan to ensure our legacy and the passing on of knowledge.
Nowadays where so many documents, pictures, letters (e-mails) etc. are digital, how do we ensure that we also leave something for our successors? Think of the pictures from your last birthday. How many of them do you have on paper and how many on your hard drive?
Public and private companies also face these challenges. Not so much for sentimental reasons, but more for compliance reasons. Nobody wants paper any more. In DIMO we talk a lot about these issues, and we agree that one of the most serious plans for keeping documents for a long time is to use a format that is standardised, possible to validate and intended for long-term archiving. PDF/A seems like a very good fit.
Michael Fray, DIMO