UNESCO starts Digital Roadmap

Digital information is difficult to preserve over longer periods of time. Carriers like floppies or CD-roms have a short life span, and even if you have managed to keep the bits and bytes, the risk that current hard- and software cannot process the old data is very real. Information online runs the risk to disappear due to the instability of URLs.

Archives, museums and libraries are acutely aware of these problems, yet they cannot find solutions on their own. They have to find ways to cooperate with industry and governments in order to make sure that the information we create today is still useable in the future.

A 404-error in Wikipedia.

At the first UNESCO International Conference on Memory of the World in the Digital Age (Vancouver, 2012), the President of the International Council of Archives (ICA) President Martin Berendse argued for ‘an international coalition to realize a Roadmap for the Digital Preservation of the Memory of the World’. This idea found its way into the Vancouver declaration.

There is a pressing need to establish a roadmap proposing solutions, agreements and policies, that ensure long term access and trustworthy preservation. This roadmap should address issues like open government, open data, open access and electronic government. It should dovetail with national and international priorities and be in full agreement with human rights.

UNESCO, IFLA, ICA, KB and DEN Foundation initiated a follow-up meeting to prepare an action plan that is planned to take place in The Hague, the Netherlands, on the 5th and 6th of December 2013. National Commissions for UNESCO from Canada, Korea and the Netherlands are cooperating with the UNESCO Secretariat to organise this meeting,  at which international experts like Roly Keating (British Library) and Margaret Hedstrom (University of Michigan School of Information) will explain the urgency for closer cooperation between industry, government and heritage institutions, including users. The goal of this meeting is to prepare a platform where key stake holders can meet and discuss issues of long term preservation and decide on practical measures.

As a preparation for the Hague meeting, the organisers have proposed a two hour preparatory workshop at Digitalheritage 2013, in order to collect feedback from the global heritage community on this initiative and to gain up to date information on issues that the platform should tackle.

Van oorlog tot ongedierte: documentair erfgoed staat aan allerlei bedreigingen bloot. Van brieven tot films en van kleitabletten tot harddisks – papier vergaat, computers crashen. Documentair erfgoed is onmisbaar om het verleden, maar ook het heden te begrijpen. Het ‘Memory of the World’-programma stimuleert daarom het behoud en de toegankelijkheid van documentair erfgoed en wil dat iedereen op de wereld zich bewust is van de waarde die deze documenten hebben.

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