Name Pdf - Portable document format

Need to Act?

The legacy of pdf documents is undisputed. Their contributions to progress in information sharing and the electronic publication of both scholarly and general interest content cannot be overestimated.

However, not all pdf documents are as efficient as they could be. Many lack bookmarks. And even if one is interested in only one paragraph of pdf document, the pdf file must be downloaded entirely, often megabytes.

In a sense the pdf format supports an entrenched authors' attitude1 of producing works that must be acquired, accessed and read, as a whole (see also Print Book or Article.

The pdf format encourages the replication of much content.


PDF, or Portable Document Format is a file format developed by Adobe in the 1990s to present documents, including text formatting and images, in a manner independent of application software, hardware, and operating systems. Based on the PostScript language, each PDF file encapsulates a complete description of a fixed-layout flat document, including the text, fonts, vector graphics, raster images and other information needed to display it. PDF was standardized as an open format, ISO 32000, in 2008, and no longer requires any royalties for its implementation.


Widely used on the internet.


As print books and articles, pdf documtents are durable content actants, par excellence. This durability aspect implies that they must not be a priority actant in situations that need a more interactive way of knowledge sharing and growth.

In the Actant Dictionary, this actant is included to contrast bad practices using it, with more information-centric, lean, productive and dynamic (social publishing) practices using other durable content actants, enabled by web technologies.

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