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EG8 Publishes Report In Noninteractive, Nonquotable Format 148

pbahra writes "You could not come up with a better illustration of the clash of cultures that was the eG8 than the post-forum report. Was the output of the two-day gathering in Paris published on a website so people could link to it? Or perhaps a blog so that people could comment on it? Or even a wiki, so the people who attended could contribute and correct mistakes? No it wasn't. The report is a book. Or rather it is an eBook. Except it isn't even an eBook, in the sense of something that you can read on your Kindle or other eBook reader. It's actually a Flash-based page turner, the sort of thing that was all the rage five years ago. It is a digital facsimile of a book. It is the triumph of design over access. Being Flash, you can't even cut and paste what is in the file. And being Flash it gives complete and total control to the authors. As a user all you get to do is to read it, in exactly the way the authors want you to. It looks good, but you can't do anything with it, except what the authors tell you to do. Metaphor anyone?"
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EG8 Publishes Report In Noninteractive, Nonquotable Format

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  • by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @11:53AM (#36425584) Homepage Journal

    But a feature, from the POV of the creator.

    Are you still living in the squalid ghetto of the "reality-based community"?

    • But a feature, from the POV of the creator.

      It still boggles my mind why anyone would even bother to create something that nobody can actually use. It's like they are professional sadists or something.

      Oh wait, we're talking about copyright lawyers here, never mind.

      • Re:Not a Flaw (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dreemernj ( 859414 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @12:22PM (#36425870) Homepage Journal
        I have worked on page turner style flash projects before. They were requested and I built them. The recipients loved them.

        And the reason they loved them is very simple. They didn't get computers and they couldn't figure out how to make other people get computers. They would never trust someone with experience in the field because these were PR people that know everything they need to know about everything.

        The page turner looked like a magazine or newspaper to them. That meant they could understand it. They didn't think about things like linking or accessing them from a plethora of devices because they didn't have to do that with the printed materials they will hold onto til their last breath. It fit their limited notion of how information could be presented to audiences.

        I am not saying that is what happened here. But, if there was a PR firm involved, my first guess would be they are the main reason this happened.
        • Re:Not a Flaw (Score:5, Informative)

          by dreemernj ( 859414 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @12:25PM (#36425902) Homepage Journal
          Disregard my rant. I didn't RTFA. The report is available in searchable, highlightable PDF right on the page. PDF isn't the perfect option but on my comp it is only one command away from plaintext.
        • by colnago ( 91472 )
          Interesting. I'd agree on a number of levels with this position. I've had to help a 60-something woman (who recently lost her husband who did all the computer work) to get her wireless mouse working. Because the USB nub wireless receiver fit perfectly into her mouse for storage, she assumed that is where the nub was supposed to go. She didn't understand why her mouse didn't work. She laughed when I "fixed" her problem in about 12 seconds.
          I guess the appropriate response is know your audience. How do they
          • A very valid point. The PR people I referred to didn't care so much about the audience as about doing what they knew. They could manipulate any market figures to make it look like a success, even if things like sales didn't improve.

            But it could just be that the target audience for this is better served by a page turner as the main display. The fact that a PDF was posted that can be searched and that you can copy-pasta makes this discussion academic. They didn't screw anything up in this case. They di
      • by PIBM ( 588930 )

        Well, if people actually took the time to look it over, they`d notice that there is a lot of videos embedded, and as it`s put forward, you would have had a degraded experience anyway, should you have browsed a simpler web site without flash support.. Anyway, it`s not as bad as it could have been :)

  • Just take screen shots of each page and OCR them. Problem?

    • by Kenja ( 541830 )
      Naw, easier to hire some guys form outside the Home Depot to transcribe the document.
    • Re:Simple solution (Score:5, Informative)

      by otuz ( 85014 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @11:58AM (#36425654) Homepage

      Actually, on top of the flash, there is a picture of a floppy disk (who remembers those?). Clicking that lets you save the contents as a pdf, but you still need the flash plugin to "download" it.

      • Re:Simple solution (Score:5, Informative)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @12:08PM (#36425748) Journal
        According to the webpage of the vendor "all text is available in both flash and HTML formats" so that search engines can find it. Spoofing your browser ID to the googlebot might get you something of greater use.

        Also, according to the sourcecode of the page, it does a check for mobile browsers and just drops the PDF directly on them, without trying flash(because, after all, dubiously-reflowable PDFs are far superior to HTML on tiny little screens. Spoofing a mobile browser ID should net you the PDF without the flash, in any case.
      • Re:Simple solution (Score:5, Informative)

        by whtmarker ( 1060730 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @12:10PM (#36425772) Homepage
        So I downloaded it, and then ran pdftotext on it. [] No story here. Just a rant from Ben Rooney. He'll feel like an idiot when he realizes its just a PDF.
        • Re:Simple solution (Score:5, Interesting)

          by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @12:17PM (#36425824) Journal
          He probably already realises that it's a PDF, because he even states that iPad users see a 76-page PDF if they go to the site, as if that's somehow a bad thing. Oh no! The bad people published it in a DRM-free, ISO-specified, format with multiple independently implemented readers!
          • by mgiuca ( 1040724 )

            The point isn't that the format is proprietary, and whether or not it's available as a Flash or a PDF or an iPhone app, it doesn't matter. Whether or not an advanced user could somehow extract all of the text isn't the issue. The issue is that this isn't how the web works. The real web is about resources. Lots of individual resources, with their own URLs, which allow incoming links, and preferably, with lots of outgoing links as well.

            I should be able to refer to a specific article within that document on my

            • Obviously you didn't try accessing the PDF. It is selectable. It is copyable. You can link to it. It is readable on any platform with a PDF viewer. Any half-decent screen reader will read it correctly (I tried the OS X built-in one, and it worked fine). So, what's your complaint?
              • by mgiuca ( 1040724 )

                It isn't part of the ecosystem of the web. A PDF is still designed for the old world, where books had pages and were standalone entities. PDFs can be linked to, but they can't be linked into; this PDF has about 10 articles, and you can't show me a URL for a particular article or subsection. PDFs are designed for a particular page size. If you try to view them on a small screen, you have to zoom out and then the text is too small. HTML is designed to be device-independent, and the text flows to fit the devic

        • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

          No fun metadata in the PDF?

      • by dieth ( 951868 )
        From the html source here's the direct link to the pdf. LINK []
      • It is also possible to access the PDF from [] (21MB) ...which is definitely quotable... and linkable... and on a website


        Swing and a miss!

        --- Insert 'Comment' Disk 2 to continue reading ---

    • Easier, read it into voice recognition software. That way you can't be accused of bypassing any encryption.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'd prefer to make a complex arrangement of mirrors and lenses that focus and re-orientate the view to 90 degree angles and point it towards my scanner.
      That is the only acceptable way to screenshot.
      It is the manliest way to screenshot.

    • The point of these sorts of security systems is not to stop a determined attacker, or even to stop an attacker with a low-level of expertise. The point is to be a speedbump, to prevent people from breaking the security system just long enough for the companies to turn a profit. It is also a way to play on consumer ignorance, since most computer users do not know how to set up OCR systems and hack Flash applets.

      Really, a highly knowledgeable attacker will just take a snapshot of the memory of the proces
      • I still don't see the point. Even ignoring the fact that there's a "save as PDF" option at the top of the Flash animation, what would be the point of preventing regular people from, say, copy&pasting from this document? It seems like one guy didn't notice the PDF option and wrote a story for the Wall Street Journal about it with an interview from someone not very knowledgeable about this system. This is why I hate journalists, as a rule: shoddy reporting is harmful and prevalent.

        (Here's the PDF download []

      • So, the EG8 wants to stop people from quotating them and reading their ideas until they capitalize on those ideas? Still makes no sense.

        The EG8 wants people to be unable to quote the ideas they want people to read? No, I still didn't get it...

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well, you could just reverse-engineer the container []. That thing is powerful and with a moderately-skilled person, it's possible to copy raw text out of the demo instead of just reading it.

    • How did journalists handle this in the days before computers? They transcribed! There is no such thing in existence as a readable but non quotable format.

  • by MrWeelson ( 948337 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @11:56AM (#36425616)

    You could always click on the 'Download' button and save as a PDF document - then you can do as you want with it.

    Admittedly a blog or wiki would, perhaps, be nicer to use.

    • by McNihil ( 612243 )

      On some level I agree that it would be nicer with a wiki BUT it is nice too to have something that if official and not something that is microedited into oblivion.

      Reading between the lines should still be a required skill and having those lines explicitly put in place somewhat clips the wings of future understanding of other texts.

      IMHO the initial blog entry is nothing more than bloghorea to me and not worthy a front-post link-whoring post on slashdot.

      And remember it could be way worse... it could have been

  • Think about it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @11:56AM (#36425618)

    If they had comments, they'd have to hire fifty people just to moderate the Obama Kenyan Birth Certificate posts, anti-NWO posts, anti-ZOG posts, anti-TACMAR posts, Black Helicopters posts, anti-globalization posts, anti-Bilderberger posts, anti-Zeta Reticulan reptoid posts, anti Trilateral Commission posts...

    It should still be quotable, though. Then again, did this organization produce anything worthy of quotation?

  • WHAT IS EG8? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gilleain ( 1310105 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @11:57AM (#36425640)

    Google tells me it is some sort of governmental meeting about the internet. []

    Could the summary not have expended a sentence about this?

    • Actually, if you follow that link and look at who the particpants are you discover that it is a meeting of corporate executives (and at least one lawyer).
  • I wonder if this is deliberate. Do they really want easy access and discussion on it ? After all, discussion would mean potential criticism and we can't have that, can we.
  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @11:58AM (#36425646)
    After reading the article linked in the summary and the article which that article linked to, the best I can come up with is that it is a meeting of executives from technology companies that want to have more say in the agenda of the meetings of the G-8 countries. Apparently, these executives do not understand technology well enough to release thier report in a readable electronic format.
    • Apparently, these executives do not understand technology well enough to release thier report in a readable electronic format.

      I followed the link and could trivially read the contents. Maybe you need to upgrade your browser to something post 1996.
      (Hint: 'readable' means 'can be read', not 'cant be cut and pasted', not 'can be linked', etc...)

      • I based my comment in the article, not on trying to read the report. Since no one has answered the question as to why I should care.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Err - the 'Download' link seems to provide access to the PDF...

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @12:01PM (#36425678) Homepage

    If you turn off JavaScript and load the page, you get a big Adobe ad for Flash, followed by a long bullet list of links to HTML pages of plain text. The plain text is all there, but the links to the pictures and video are not.

  • Summary missing link (Score:3, Informative)

    by itchythebear ( 2198688 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @12:03PM (#36425702)

    You could have included a link to the actual book in question... []

  • It illustrates how corporatocracy is not just a problem in the United States.

  • by RLBrown ( 889443 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @12:04PM (#36425712) Homepage
    I can only smile a little. There was a time when if a journalist wish to use a quote from a speech or a report, he or she would copy it out by hand, on notepads or (as a later terrific innovation) using a typewriter. Now, all the bloggers complain "I can't sweep my mouse/trackpad cursor over it and just copy and paste it - what shall I do, what shall I do!"
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Um, as an old timer, yeah, I see where you are coming from. Time was, I had to turn the crank on the front of the car to get it started before hopping in to go where I wanted. Or I had to feed Old Nelly some oats before trotting off. Kids today just turn the key in the ignition and don't know how easy they have it.

      Yes, it's easier now. And typing things out by hand is no big deal. But WHY ON EARTH would you prefer such a limited on-screen option if the text was already in digital form? That stupid Fla

      • by RLBrown ( 889443 )
        Agreed, there is no point in limiting usage when alternatives are available. Perhaps it is deliberate, as others have suggested -- the authors do not want people to be excerpting material from the report. Which is also a stupid attitude. In my comment, I was attempting to puzzle at the automatic entitlement attitude that authors must use the media that makes it easy to excerpt. I, too, would be upset if some one told me I had to produce an analysis without using Mathematica(tm) or had to build a web site wi
    • Don't mock these ignorant buffoons. Soon they will be in charge of our government and hospitals and pension plans.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @12:04PM (#36425714) Journal
    Apparently they went with "Fluidbook []", which appears to be a French clone of Scribd, only uglier and even more pointless. As we all know, the best way to read text on screen is by using your mouse to manipulate a 3D rendering of a book... Just like the best interface for an audio player application is a painstakingly bitmap-rendered and non-resizable facsimile of a 1970s stereo.

    At least they didn't disable the PDF download button, though that is a pitiful consolation.
    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      Just like the best interface for an audio player application is a painstakingly bitmap-rendered and non-resizable facsimile of a 1970s stereo.

      Wait, when did we start talking about QuickTime []. (Yes, Apple actually made that mistake once upon a time.)

  • Whats up with that 3d mode? WTF? Is this how they envision the future of internet? Prity but completely useless?
  • There are Flash decompilers out there. They will either expose the text directly, or reveal any background HTTP requests that Flash makes to load the content.

    Regardless, this is a damnably bone-headed move.

  • Although this does not address the fundamental problem of restricting full access to the information, products such as Abbyy Fine Reader ( provide the ability to use OCR to gain access to the text.

  • Seriously editors, did you even try to click around their site? Also who said you need any sort of plugin at all?

    Even more to the point, who the hell wants to read this atrocity? It's like 90% pictures.

    $ wget []?
    --2011-06-13 12:15:12-- []?
    Resolving (,,
    Connecting to (||:80... connected.
    HTTP request s

  • Whats wrong with you lot? You can download a PDF version and its OCR'd already. I have the plaintext version of this 'ebook' already in my text editor.
  • I remember when Slashdot posters would read an article, think about it, and post their own submission. This posting (and a majority on /. these days) merely copy and pasted the first few paragraphs of the article. That plagiarism, as it says "(user) said...". Hell, how do we know it isn't a bot grabbing content at this point? I see CmdrTaco approved it.. c'mon Rob..

    • by lee1 ( 219161 )
      Thank you. I've been noticing this lately, and wondered if it was somehow thought to be acceptable here to copy and paste someone else's work. I submit articles to /. occasionally, and always put things in my own words, with my own slant. What's going on here strikes me as plagiarism, too.
  • Apple Preview, and Document Viewed 2.32.0 for Gnome have no problem with copy and paste from the PDF document.
  • Quick Rundown... (Score:4, Informative)

    by IonOtter ( 629215 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @12:23PM (#36425874) Homepage

    Here [] is the dastardly flash file in question. Pretty straightforward? Rather nice, actually? Scrolling and enlarging is functional and intuitive? My machine is ancient, yet it handled things quite well. Naturally, it won't cross the walled garden of Apple, but I suppose we all pay our little prices for our little vices.

    If you are using NoScript, you get a list of HTML files, and no pictures.

    Here [] is the PDF file. You can perform a copy and paste with no trouble? And if you have an impairment that prevents you from reading it, the file is accessible to your text-to-speech software.

    The actual text of the files in question seems rather bland, really? There's nothing earth-shattering or unexpected, since the real meat & potatoes of each presentation was verbal, not written.

    This post seems much ado about nothing.

    • Remind me why I have to download a PDF file to read text on the Internet? HTML's been working since, oh, a while now. Pretty standard stuff.

      • Remind me why I have to download a PDF file to read text on the Internet?

        Because, for better or worse, some people still like to print out hard copies (a) to read on the toilet/train/plane without having to faff about with a laptop and (b) just in case the online version changes without notice... It may even be required to deliver hard copies of the report. Also, there's still a certain amount of preference, particularly in academia, for ISBN numbers and page references over URLs. Silly, but not always within your gift to ignore.

        The one thing HTML doesn't do is give you more th

  • It's dumb but you could retype this in a few hours.
    You could probably set up something to screen capture and OCR it as well.

    • That sounds like a lot of work. Simply download the PDF and select the text with your mouse and use copy/paste. Watch how easy it is (lifted from page 10):

      Of course it would be easy to use this occasion to express a few platitudes: opinions that we all share. Every day the Internet does indeed transform the way in which people live, work, communicate, bond, play, enjoy themselves, live and love. And indeed, the Internet is a powerful motor for economic development, a mine of productivity and job-creat
  • "so people could link to it?"
    You are linking to it.
    "people could comment on it?"
    We're commenting on it right now. If I cared, I would write an article on it on my website.
    "As a user all you get to do is to read it"
    If you really need to copy and paste for some reason you can download the pdf. Really, what's the problem? It's too hard to steal?
  • Try reading the National Electrical Code online. First, start at the NFPA [] site. Then, spend a few fun minutes trying to find the link to the NEC. Then register. Then, if you're lucky, you can use "RealRead" [] to view the Code. As the NFPA puts it, This document is designed to be viewed online: there are no "print", "save", "cut and paste", or "search" options.
  • Screen shot each page, OCR, post. Problem solved. This isn't content protection, is just being jerks.
  • As others have noted, there's a PDF download link available in the Flash reader. The site also defaults to the PDF if your browser does not support Flash. There is nothing terribly wrong about this at all unless you find fault with PDFs in general as well. I know I do. That said, the Flash ebook is sprinkled with videos as well as images. This could be one reason why they have opted to go with it.

    I found the fact that I had to visit the WSJ blog to get a link to the ebook (or the EG8 site itself) more ann

  • It amazes me how the whole computing community, including computer scientists and programmers, are being kept hostage by a small group of people who enforce their rules upon them (not only the Microsofts, Apples and Adobes of this world, but also standardization committees such as W3C).

    Just wow.

    • by blair1q ( 305137 )

      who's a hostage?

      if you want your own information, you're free to create it

    • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

      It amazes me how the whole computing community, including computer scientists and programmers, are being kept hostage by a small group of people who enforce their rules upon them (not only the Microsofts, Apples and Adobes of this world, but also standardization committees such as W3C).

      So you don't want a single company in control, but you don't want open standards either. You must really be a masochist if you think everybody should constantly re-invent everything themselves.

  • Just a thought, but "5 years ago" sounds about right, when has the government done anything cutting edge w technology. I object to them not using HTML text vs a flash based format, or least providing the former, but what did you expect? AJAX w/ jQuery? Also, PDF is available and there are converters for pdf to text that'll take care of the OP issue, overkill on my part to get a copy though.
  • by Bazman ( 4849 )

    I laughed at the "download" icon. All the greatest tech minds and what do they use for the download icon? A floppy disk.

  • As others must have already pointed out, there's a PDF download button right on the page. And I can copy and paste text from that PDF.

    Granted, this is not the way I like to read documents and it's totally superfluous, but from a design standpoint it's kind of cool. It's actually easier to read through the book in this than it would be in Acrobat. But I realize some people are Luddites when it comes to how information is presented.

    • Granted, this is not the way I like to read documents and it's totally superfluous, but from a design standpoint it's kind of cool.

      ...but its in Flash, which is an evil carbuncle upon the face of the internet (unless the article is about Apple, in which case Flash is an essential part of the internet experience).

      Do keep up.

  • In the wall of logos at the back of the book, even though the EFF was in attendance, they were left out.
  • For all their guff on [] about making it accessible, you still have to download the PDF via the Flash "app".
    It all looks like the sort of shiny UI that is necessary when your key customers are heads of state and the like - frequently clueless about and impatient with technology.

    Anyone actually read it? It's still downloading

  • Wait, so the top executives from technology companies around the world gather to discuss important policy items they'd like to see discussed by the G8 regarding the internet - a noteworthy story by itself - and instead of discussing the content of the story we're complaining about the format they released it in???
  • OK, did the author of the post see the little floppy icon at the top of the page?
    It stands for "save to PDF" after you do you can export to plain text.

    What's the problem?

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!