Goeun’s article

Here’s Goeun’s article, for critique on October 1st:

And I would like to highlight one more thing:

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE use one of the following formats: .rtf, .doc

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT use one of the following formats: .hwp, .docx

I don’t understand why, after discussing this not only in our class but in many other classes, for years on end, people are still sending me files in the latter formats.

Why .HWP format should not be used for this class:

Nobody outside of Korea uses .hwp format files, nor can they read them. Most non-Koreans in Korea also prefer not to use .hwp format files, since the software is inferior for writing in English.

Why .DOCX format should not be used for this class:

The .doc format is standard, and the .docx format is the new version of .doc. Eventually, .docx will probably become the standard. However, that has not yet happened for a number of reasons:

  1. People in many places are less likely to upgrade to the new Microsoft Office software right away, probably for two reasons: (a) intellectual property rights are more strictly enforced and piracy of software is slower than in Korea; and (b) most institutions are happy to keep using the software they already have licensed, instead of upgrading and facing new problems and issues.
  2. While Microsoft Windows is the default OS (operating system) in Korea — so much so that most of the Korean Internet cannot be accessed properly except in Internet Explorer — the rest of the world uses a much wider variety of OSes. Outside of Korea, the general expectation is that websites, files, and content will work on Mac, Linux, and Windows alike. Therefore, proprietary formats like .hwp and .docx are more difficult to use in other OSes, and usually are not accessible for some time after the new format is created. For example, on my Linux computer I can open .docx files since a few months ago. I cannot open .hwp files without buying (or stealing) expensive software or piracy.

By the way, in the bigger picture this is why so much of the Korean Internet is useless to non-Koreans. Requiring users to have Windows XP (sometimes only a Korean-language version), Internet Explorer (because of the overuse of ActiveX controls that even Microsoft doesn’t support anymore), and a 주민등록번호¸ are all ways of ensuring that people outside Korea will use a different website to order their products or  get their information, instead of ordering it from Korea. By contrast, as long as you can read English, you can use Amazon.com’s website: any OS, any browser, and any nationality can order from Amazon. Amazon wants everyone’s business — including people in Bangladesh and Morocco. And they are, more and more, getting it!

So using open formats also makes good sense in terms of popularizing your culture, in terms of the economy, in terms of trade and export, and more. If globalization and IT are at all connected — and of course they are — then at the core is the importance of accessibility!

Use Accessible Formats

This is the real reason the rest of the planet is using .rtf or .doc: it makes files easy to open and read.

If you send a file to your University instructor, he or she will probably ask you to send it again. In the business world, however, they might decide you’re incompetent and it could cost your company a contract. You might miss a deadline since an unopenable file is as useful as no file at all. If you’re submitting files to foreign institutions like universities or schools and they cannot open the file, they may not contact you to re-submit, especially if there are many applicants: your application or submission might never be considered. In other words, using inaccessible formats is just a way of making sure your work isn’t read, and is a very bad way of interfacing with the world.

On the other hand, using universally accessible formats will allow others to access your files. It doesn’t guarantee that people will read your work, but at least it removes all the barriers that come with inacessible formats. It means people can read your work if they want to… and maybe more people want to than you think!

As well, it minimizes the chances of problems like Eunsuk’s article title being lost in file conversion.

Open formats are also good netiquette: it is more considerate to think about whether your recipient can actually open the file you are sending or posting for download. This is why all the files I provide on this site are in .PDF format, for example.

So when you are mailing files to Koreans who haven’t specified a file format, feel free to use .hwp. After all, .hwp is the standard format inside Korea.

If you prefer to use .docx, ask the person you’re sending a file to whether it’s an acceptable format.

But otherwise, or when in doubt, always send the file in a universally accessible format.If you don’t know how to save a file from your word processor in an alternate format, learn how. Look in the FILE menu, there’s usually a SAVE AS or EXPORT option available. Use the HELP menu if you can’t figure it out.

Like good formatting, accessibility is simply basic for a writer.

See you tomorrow.

Comments are closed.