David Wolfson's thoughtful post about posterity and Kyle Gann's post about the fickle nature of computer operating systems both gave me a jolt today. I rely exclusively on the computer as a tool for notating and distributing the music I write.
Perhaps I have come to trust that a PDF file is pretty much the same as a hard copy because Finale's command to print gives me the option to "print" something as a PDF. Since I back up my PDF files on a cloud, somewhere, I haven't felt the need to print up paper copies of music for years, but someday PDF files might be obsolete. Who can honestly say that the format will be around forever? Who can honestly say it will be around in 30 years? 20 years? 10 years?
Who can say that a superior format won't emerge, and the "gatekeepers" will set up shop and translate PDF files into the new format for a price?
Every digital format has changed since the beginning of computing. How many computers today can read IBM cards? Displaywriter documents? Floppy discs? Zip discs?
[My old floppy discs and Zip discs sit in a drawer with old pairs of glasses.]
I wonder how many reams of paper and how much time and toner it would take to print physical copies of the music I have written over the last 15 years. I wonder how much physical space it would take up. I wonder if I should plan to start soon.