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Vikas Kamat
 Vikas Kamat is a programmer- entrepreneur living in Birmingham AL. This blog is a complex mix of Indian culture, life in southern USA, computer sciences, and sports. Opinions are his own.
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Joys of ASCII Durable Link to this BLOG
Joys of Plain Text

Winterspeak: The Joy of Plaintext

Very well said. I think people who don't wrap long sentences (they assume the recipient has Microsoft Outlook), and use rich text in e-mails so lack vision. These people do not value e-mail as a durable document....document that needs to live beyond the life of the reader.

When I told one of my friends (who does not wrap email), that I have a record of every e-mail I recieved and sent since 1990 he was shocked (what a moron). "It is a record of my life" I said. And because it is all in plain text, I can back it up, index it, search it, move it across operating systems, and across hardwares.

Then the evil empire held my nose and poured Outlook Express down my throat.

Now my e-mail is spread over six computers (all using same client - Outlook Express), but no way to search across them. There is no text export -- the only thing it can export to is yet another Microsoft product), or merge...

See in 1990, I could merge my InBox and SentBox and the resulting page reads like an interview... with delimiter (>) indicating who said what. This is 2001 and see where we are with the Innovation company.

There are two other bad guys against PlainText, and both have vested interests:
AOL - Although AOL mail (and their instant messanger) is Plaintext friendly, they need to actively support Export MailBox as Text feature. Like Microsoft, AOL stands to gain by a format lock-in.
Adobe - By bundling formatting features with the reading client, Adobe has sinister plans. Fifty years from now, when all of mankind's legacy is in the electronic form, guess who stands to benefit...

FYI: Most of is produced based on the letters written by my father over the last six decades. Imagine that they were e-mails and there was no way to read a message that was composed in 1962 when he was in New York, or in 1976 when he was in the deep jungles of Central India... the software to read those messages would have become obsolete..

PlainText rules for the same reason the paper rules -- because it is not dependent on anybody for its dissimilation.

See Also:
Gandhi in ASCII Art
An Example of Kamat`s Letters

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Friday, August 10, 2001
Last Modified: 1/29/2003

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