Bookmark: "Write plain text files"

Sebastian Greger


Derek Sivers lays out the arguments for creating digital files in plain text format whenever feasible. This is at the core of building a strategy for resilient digital assets – while fancy formats come and go, a plain text file written on MS-DOS in the 1990s would still be easily readable today.

Reliable, flexible, portable, independent, and long-lasting. Plain text files will be readable by future generations, hundreds of years from now.

I especially enjoy the tranquility of their offline, non-commercial nature. They’re quiet. They’re focused. (As I aim to be.)

Slightly cryptic at first, Markdown has been a game changer in this. It has completely transformed how I create digital files, and I’ve not missed a chance to promote learning Markdown to others whenever I have a chance. It’s not a coincidence my favourite CMS Kirby uses plain text files and Markdown as well.

That said, if you really need more than plain text, at least use RTF or Open Document formats. The worst choice will always be a vendor’s proprietary format like MS Office’s own.

I'm Sebastian, Sociologist and Interaction Designer. This journal is mostly about bringing toge­ther social science and design for inclusive, privacy-focused, and sustainable "human-first" digital strategies. I also tend to a "digital garden" with carefully curated resources.

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