Title text: I was actually a little relieved when I learned that JPEG2000 was used in the DCI digital cinema standard. I was feeling so bad for it!
JPEG2000 is a standard for digital image storage created by the Joint Photographic Experts Group from 1997 to 2000 to improve on the original JPEG standard, published in 1992. The original JPEG standard is the most widely used image format in the world for both digital cameras and the World Wide Web, while the newer and improved JPEG2000 standard is relatively rare. As of 2020, it is supported by Photoshop, the Safari browser, and GIMP, but it remains unsupported or poorly supported by other popular software, including Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browsers. Meanwhile, competing format WebP which appeared 10 years later is supported in all major browsers and has much wider support in other applications as well. As a result, the conventional file name extensions for files using the JPEG2000 standard, .jp2 and .jpx, remain unfamiliar to many users while the .jpg extension, denoting the original standard, is well known. The JPEG2000 standard was seen as an improvement by its creators, supporting many features not included in the original standard, such as multiple resolutions, progressive transmission, a lossless compression option, and alpha channel transparency. The complexity of fully implementing the standard, as well as patent concerns, may have slowed adoption.
Cueball and Hairbun seem to have some desire for or stake in JPEG2000 adoption. Cueball begins to worry after more than 20 years without much progress but Hairbun is confident that it will eventually prevail, and she cares more about its eventual use than rapid adoption.
The core concept of this comic is that engineers often expect that a superior technology or standard will catch on, though often other factors keep an "inferior" standard dominant. (See various comics referencing Dvorak keyboards, as well as the term "betamaxed.") The "we are in this for the long haul" statement might refer to the engineers believing that superior technology will eventually win despite the evidence to the contrary. Its humor comes from the fact that as of the comic publication in 2020, JPEG2000 shows no sign of becoming a widely-used standard.
The title text suggests that Randall feels bad that the standard hasn't been adopted, perhaps because he empathizes with the engineers who worked hard to develop it or anthropomorphizes the standard itself, which has been ignored by most of the computer-using world. Also he may actually believe it is the better standard that should have been more widely used. DCI, short for Digital Cinema Initiatives, is a collaboration of several major film studios to establish standards for the security and proper display of digital films. Version 1.0 of the DCI’s “Digital Cinema System Specification” was released in 2005.
- [Cueball and Hairbun are sitting on office chairs opposite each other on a shared desktop with a small division wall between them. They are both working on their own respective computers.]
- [Cueball leans back and stops typing. Hairbun continues to type.]
- [Cueball makes a statement as he looks over at Hairbun who looks back at him when she replies. She has moved one hand off the keyboard down to her lap. Cueball's keyboard has disappeared!]
- Cueball: I'm starting to worry that JPEG 2000 isn't catching on as fast as we expected.
- Hairbun: Don't worry! We're in this for the long haul.
- Cueball's keyboard seems to have inexplicably disappeared in the last panel.
- A JPEG2000 version of the image file is available here: https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/jpeg2000.jp2 . It is only 20% smaller than the PNG version, and has visible compression artifacts.
- JPEG2000 is also supported as an image compression method in PDF.
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