MS Office Works file represented in MS Office

The issue: MS Office Works file represented in MS Office 2007

We see here two figures, the first one showning the file in the original environment of MS Office Works and the second showing the same file in MS Office 2007. The same family, but not the same result. Obviously not all the original features are supported.

MS Works 4.0 Document File MS Office 2007 rendering this  MS Works file

Description (from the source): [These figures] “show how the word count of the Microsoft Works 4.0 file went from 334 to 477 words when rendered in Microsoft Word 2007 and a sentence fragment is now made visible that was not displayed anywhere in the original. The sentence fragment reads: “mbed and locked my hands about his neck. The stick swished twice as th”. This content may have been previously deleted in the original but continued to be stored somewhere in the file.

[The second figure] also shows that extra symbols have been added to the bottom of the document. These symbols are likely formatting information that has been interpreted as text by Microsoft Word 2007.

The formatting and font in the original rendering of the document have also changed. The centre-alignment of the poem in the Microsoft Works 4.0 rendering has changed to left-alignment in the Microsoft Word 2007 rendering and the font changed from Times New Roman to Courier New in the Microsoft Word 2007 rendering.”

Source: this case is described in the Report Rendering Matters by Euan Cochrane and can be found on the website of Archives New Zealand


2 thoughts on “MS Office Works file represented in MS Office

  1. I would suggest this is not “damage” in digital files, but an example of using an inappropriate tool / decoder to access a binary object. MS Office Works is a different application to MS Word, and within the application type there are a number of different versions of of Works / Office that can handle different files types.

    There is clearly some overlap, the pure ASCII text content seems to be consistent between the two applications, however, markup / metadata in the Works file is being incorrectly decoded as ASCII content in the Word version.

    You would see a similar result if you opened (for example) a jpg in Word. The true ASCII content (e.g Exif or XMP data) would be legible, the image payload would be junk text as Word attempts to decode the binary data.

  2. Jay,

    You’ve commented on a few of these with a similar response. I agree it is a case of the wrong interaction environment being used to interact with the objects and it is not a case of damage to files. However whether or not it is the “right” environment to use to interact with the objects, in this case it was used and it is a case of damage to the content. In addition, as soon as someone clicks “save-as” and saves the mangled content using that inappropriate environment to the the format of their choice, then those issues can be mostly (aside from the subsequent additional choice of interaction environment) locked in and become “migration” issues. These locked-in migration issues are clearly issues of damage to the content and arguably also to the files as under such a process the primary file is been changed dramatically (in practise an entirely new file is normally created).

    These newer interaction environments are also all that most people have to interact with the objects. So I think it is fair to say that these examples are representative of situations that users will come across and do represent damage to the original content/objects from the perspective of the user that has no other options.

    Had the original software been preserved for use in interacting with the other files to produce the content then there would be no perception of damage to the object by the user and this example wouldn’t exist. Unfortunately that is rarely the case and most often tools such as newer word processors are being used to normalise or migrate content to new files, and in the process are causing the content to be damaged in the ways illustrated in these examples.

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