And you thought PDFs were bad... is linking to an Excel file of statistics from one of its stories today.

An Excel file has all the usability problems of PDF files for online reading. It also requires special software to view, but unlike Adobe’s PDF reader, that software is not free.

I applaud the Times for thinking to offer raw data in a form that might inspire some readers to do some number-crunching of their own. But an ordinary tabbed-delimited text file could serve that purpose — and be readable without expensive software many people don’t own.

I believe news sites have a journalistic duty to make their reporting accessible to everyone. That means distributing it via open standards, not proprietary file formats.

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This page last modified on Tuesday, January 3, 2006 at 6:49 am