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RE: Print vs. Electronic and making electronic more accessible

I always prefer hard copies. It's not easy on the eyes reading stuff on the web and I can flip through pages as fast as I can follow links. It's easier to loan a hardcopy than a webpage. If I'm trying to explain to someone on the phone where to look for something, it's easier to say "page XX" than "http://www.lengthyname/randomstuff.whatever."

Also (and this may just be me), it somehow seems easier to copy pages from a book to fax or mail someone. Getting something off the web for that purpose somehow always seems more difficult. If am working with someone who is hooked up the same as me to the web, electronic data is fine. But, if I have to take it from web to hardcopy, it's somewhat inconvenient.

One other thing, though, that I want to mention about electronic data is that putting stuff on the web, or in other electronic form, does not mean that it is accessible to everyone who has web access.

For a couple of years I could not open any file in Adobe Acrobat because the computer I was using did not have enough RAM to execute the installation of the Acrobat Reader.

Slow modem connections are also a problem. In the past, I used to not bother with some EPA databases because the graphics took so long to load. There was one page, I recall, that would have been very useful to me, but each entry on the page had a little graphic of the United States next to it. There must have been at least one hundred, though I can't say for sure because I could never wait for the whole page to load.

There is also the problem with file formats. I was pretty unhappy for a while because certain permits I wanted were in Word, which I did not have. I finally fired off a message to the folks who had put them on the web. They replied with a message that told me where to get a free Word viewer. Great, but why wasn't that information available on the web site with the documents, like the Adobe Reader link that seems to be everywhere.

Lastly, on the issue of formats, I prefer the format that allows me to most easily to copy from the document or edit in notes, as I am often trying to quote sections of the document or annotate parts for future reference. A Word document, now that I have Word, is much more valuable to me than an Adobe Reader document. I appreciate the databases where EPA provides a choice of formats, and I strongly encourage EPA to continue offering documents in different formats.

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