I've been going over some of my old fieldnotes as I've been preparing my book on deaf politics in Japan for publication. I did much of my work during 1996-2001 and my notes were written in ClarisWorks and NisusWriter on a PowerBook 230. Unfortunately, I'm finding that many of the notes in ClarisWorks are inaccessible -- I don't have a copy of AppleWorks on my machine. Some of my notes were even in a ClarisWorks database -- quite innovative I thought, but also now inaccessible.
I think this will be a growing problem for anthropologists. Back when I was at Yale, there was a famous field methods class taught by one of the great elders of the discipline. He would tell you how to write on waxed waterproof paper with waterproof inks -- just the thing for the deepest jungles of Indonesia.
Now that even the Yamomami have e-mail, anthropologists are dragging their laptops with them everywhere. And we're writing our fieldnotes using the tools we use to write our academic papers -- commercial word processors. But these programs have a limited lifespan. Even things we thought would never die -- WordPerfect for example -- are now in their slow death spiral.
This year, my notes are written in Microsoft Word. I'm very worried about the longevity of this product -- especially on the Mac platform. If I was smart, I'd convert them to RTF, but my problem is that I use Japanese mixed in with English and I've found RTF often mangles Japanese kanji characters.
Geeks will write in and tell me to write in TeX. I guess I could also write in HTLM/XML which will be a standard for a long time to come.... or maybe not.
Yes, AppleWorks is available on MacOSX, but only prebundled on certain machines (iMacs?), my PowerBook didn't come with it... Pages won't open it, telling me that it was written in an unsupported version of AppleWorks.