[rfc-i] Paper as an archival format for RFCs

"Heather Flanagan (RFC Series Editor)" <rse@rfc-editor.org> Wed, 15 February 2017 23:04 UTC

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From: "Heather Flanagan (RFC Series Editor)" <rse@rfc-editor.org>
To: rfc-interest@rfc-editor.org
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Subject: [rfc-i] Paper as an archival format for RFCs
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Hello all,

I've heard feedback both for and against printing RFCs to paper, and
discussed this further with the RSOC. Most of the comments in support
focus on the expectation of low financial costs to print.  The cost
considerations that people have mentioned, however, do not take into
account the potential cost of recovery in such a situation where we
would need to restore the entire body of work from paper copies. The
cost of restoration from paper is likely to be a much higher cost--with
that cost increasing with every RFC published--whereas the likelihood of
being in a situation where such a wholesale recovery is necessary is
vanishingly small. The rough consensus from the RSOC is that the value
of printing does not match the costs involved.

Unlike many years ago when additional digital archives did not exist and
we did in fact have to rely on paper, we now have additional
repositories around the world, including formal archive partnerships
like the agreement with the National Library of Sweden, to informal
repositories like the copies many IETF-ers keep on their servers,
desktops, and laptops.

So, while some consider printing RFCs an inexpensive type of insurance,
looking at this from a perspective of risk management, printing RFCs for
archival purposes no longer makes sense. The full costs of both the
printing and the recovery are high. The likelihood of needing this type
of information repository in the future is low. We have a much wider
range of partnerships with others maintaining full copies of the RFC
repository than ever before. We will do better putting time and
resources towards managing our digital assets properly and editing
documents rather than handling paper.

Thank you for your feedback,

Heather Flanagan

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