Advantages of Paper

George Russell
Tue, 05 Jun 2001 18:32:22 +0200

I don't want to seem incredibly Luddite, but there are some things the World Wide
Web is not good at, and one of them is permanence.  Try for example finding out
about Glasgow Haskell from, which was I think the
standard URL a few years ago.  In 2050 we may not even have a World Wide Web
(remember Gopher?), or if we do URLs as we have them may be as outdated as 
those e-mail addresses I remember which included lots of percent signs telling 
the network to send your message to Birmingham via Beachy Head.  I find it
therefore of concern that many crucial Haskell documents, including the
standard and, for example, the various Glasgow Haskell manuals, are only
available online.  I therefore suggest that they at least be printed out
in the form of technical reports, and made available in this form to
libraries, which are well-used to storing information long-term.  Otherwise
the curious in 2050 will be able to locate manuals for FORTRAN II and
Simula (as I can do in 5 minutes in the local library), but getting Haskell 
documentation will be about as easy as reading 5-track paper tape.

I don't think it matters if Haskell itself is obsolete in the year
2050, as it probably will be.  But it will be a pity if most of the papers 
written using it are hard to figure out because the documentation itself
is missing.