May 22, 2022

Digital Preservation: UN Moves To Preserve World’s Software Code ‘Heritage’

From Voactiv:

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced last Monday that it’s partnering with a French computer science institute in an ambitious aim to preserve every piece of software ever made in order to make sure it’s never forgotten.

French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation (INRIA) began this initiative last year with its Software Heritage project, which has collected 58 million projects so far.

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More Direct From UNESCO:

The agreement was signed in the presence of the President of the French Republic, François Hollande, UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, and INRIA’s Chief Executive Officer, Antoine Petit.

“The role of digital or software in our societies has become considerable (…),” said François Hollande. There is no need to be afraid or fall into a form of deification of the tool itself or technology. We must not believe that this is the solution to all our problems. What is expected of us is to be able to control, to be able to transmit, is to be able to put these technologies, this information, these elements that become of the heritage at the service of the humanity. This is the meaning of the INRIA-UNESCO convention, based on research, culture and education.”

“This partnership with INRIA marks the strengthening of an international mobilization for the preservation and sharing of software heritage,” said the Director-General of UNESCO, welcoming the commitment at the highest level of France in this domain. The Director-General welcomed the new agreement, which “links two essential components of UNESCO’s work for cooperation and peace: heritage preservation on the one hand, innovation and research on the other.”

‘It is right to provide to each future citizen, no matter what is the country of origin and culture, the keys to understand the digital word in which he lives and for providing him with the capacity to make informed choices. Our partnership must help us to spread this idea and to make it shared by as many people as possible,” declared Antoine Petit.

This agreement between UNESCO and INRIA aims to foster an international debate and actions in favor of a universal access to all digital documents, but also to preserve scientific and technical knowledge contained in software.

This cooperation will be based, in particular, on Software Heritage, a project initiated by INRIA, whose objective is to collect, preserve and make accessible to all the source code of all available software. As a large part of scientific knowledge is produced by software or imbedded in software it is important to ensure that it is well archived and well preserved. INRIA’s Software Heritage programme aims to build a universal and perennial archive of software accessible to future generations.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.