A Technical and Cultural Assessment of the Mueller Report PDF
Even with OCR, the Mueller Report PDF isn't fully searchable
Despite the fact that the Department of Justice made it available for free to anyone with a web connection, most Americans have not read the Mueller Report on Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential campaign.
The reasons are varied, of course, but certainly one of the limiting factors was DoJ's deliverable itself; 448 images of printed and redacted pages.
Of course, within days it was possible to buy a printed copy. In 2019, however, people expect something a little more... flexible. More searchable. Easier to read. And they don't think they should have to buy a government report, especially one that cost $35 million to write.
Since many Americans (and others) now routinely read on mobile devices, it's reasonable to imagine that agencies might account for this fact when handling and posting documents of undeniable public interest. Sadly, the government continues to process, prepare and release documents almost exactly as it did in the 1990s.
As discussed in a new article in Publishers Weekly and a blog post by the Internet Archive, thanks to the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and the generosity of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Mueller Report is now freely available as a Section 508-conforming EPUB file to read on your phone or tablet. We applaud DPLA's work to make the Mueller Report an accessible and highly usable ebook!
Apart from being free, this EPUB version of the Mueller Report produced by DPLA has a number of valuable features:
Of course, this EPUB file is a reproduction, not the authentic document... and it required a lot of time and money to create.
As discussed in our previous coverage, it seems that the Special Counsel delivered his 448 page report to the Department of Justice in paper format.
What might have been delivered instead?
|A PDF file||A single deliverable that can - if created properly - meet every consumer's needs.|
|An authentic PDF||An original PDF document can be digitally-signed by the author prior to delivery. The recipient can use digital signatures at each stage of processing to ensure a full chain-of-custody.|
|A redacted PDF||PDF documents can be reliably redacted without printing or scanning.|
|A tagged PDF||PDF documents, if tagged, can be fully accessible to users who require assistive technology in order to read. With appropriate software, tagging also makes it possible to reliably reflow the file's content into an alternative (e.g., reflowed) view.|
|A linked PDF||PDF documents can include links to other locations within the document, or out to the web.|
|A navigable PDF||PDF documents can be lengthy and include many subdivisions. Accordingly, PDF files can include an "outline" feature that allows the user to navigate via a table of contents positioned next to the page.|
|A complete report||The Mueller report includes thousands of links to external documents. The Special Counsel could have included (by embedding) all these directly within his PDF document.|
As my friend Roman Toda likes to say, it's "getting too expensive to make PDF files cheaply".
Duff serves the PDF industry as ISO Project co-Leader and US TAG chair for both ISO 32000 (the PDF specification) and ISO 14289 (PDF/UA). As Executive Director of the PDF Association, Duff coordinates several working groups, speaks at a wide variety of industry events and promotes the advancement and adoption of PDF technology worldwide. An independent consultant, Duff Johnson is a veteran …
Duff serves the PDF industry as ISO Project co-Leader and US TAG chair for both ISO 32000 (the PDF specification) and …