Plain Text

Just about everything I write digitally-  blog posts, to-do’s, notes, journal, code, thoughts, plans, etc get drafted in text format (.txt) 

These are an extension of me, my digitized, quantified, extended memory of organized thoughts. I use them often for research, reference, and a log. 

So you see, they are important to me. They are a log of my digitized life. Text files are reliable, long-lasting and flexible. Here are some examples how this is the case:

Portability

I’ve had text files around since I upgraded from a manual typewriter to a word processor (personal computers were too expensive for me in college.) Text files have been around for me since 1996. Those text files were backed up on 3.5” floppy disks from the word processor to Windows 3.1 to Linux to thumb drives to Android and finally to my Apple devices here in 2022. Twenty six years old!

Every device I’ve owned, including the long obsolete devices, and devices that have not been manufactured yet can read/write/edit plain text. It is ubiquitous, everywhere. 

Non-Proprietary

Along comes an industry-leading company that says you should use their software, that just so happens to have it’s own unique format. You either buy the software or subscribe to the service to keep your documents in their format. Now you’re locked in. Boom. Your notes just lost it’s portability, flexibility and freedom for the price of “features and convenience.” What happens when that company goes belly-up? Your hard work is trapped in an unusable format. Your writing will outlive them. It will hopefully outlive you. Proprietary software is not an option. Plain text is universal, non-commercial and will be for another few decades. 

Non-Internet-Dependent

No connection, no problem. Accessing your writing when you need it is best. 

Independent

No need for Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, Evernote, OneNote, Google, etc etc etc. Sure, I could make the documents prettier with Word, but then again, I am locked in and rendered useless. A basic text editor and plain text files are plenty. So is a pen and paper. 

Convertible 

Plain text is flexible enough to convert to other formats as needed such as Markdown files, HTML, JSON etc. 

Final Note

Portable, non-proprietary, offline, independent, convertible, minimal, flexible and future-proof. Plain text will continue to be read for the next few decades. Plain isn’t boring. 

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