Long-term Survival of PDF/A Files

PDF/A is widely marketed and regarded as a preservation file format. However, a recently published article, “PDF/A Considered Harmful for Digital Preservation” by Marco Klindt serves as a prudent reminder that the PDF/A file format is not a comprehensive solution for preservation in itself.  For digital information to exist in the long term, the data that comprise the information content needs to remain discoverable, machine readable, and renderable for human consumption. If preserving digital content means that we are planning for the potential reuse of data, a computer needs to be able to read and extract this information in the future. However, there are significant challenges to preserving PDF files in the distinction between what the human eye can read and what a machine can interpret and extract.  PDF/A is intended to serve as the long-term archival version of PDF files. However, as the author notes, while PDF/A is marketed…

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