As part of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Memory of the World Programme, UNESCO will organize an international conference from 26 to 28 September 2012 in Vancouver (BC) Canada, to explore the main issues affecting the preservation of digital documentary heritage. It is expected that the Conference will help to develop strategies that contribute to greater protection of digital assets and define an implementation methodology that is especially applicable in developing countries. The Conference will bring together professionals from the documentary heritage sectors, as well as a range of government, IT industry, rights-holders and other stakeholders to assess the major prevailing issues in order to propose practical recommendations that will ensure permanent access to digital documentary heritage.
Although knowledge is today primarily created and accessed through digital media, it is highly ephemeral and could result in digital amnesia in the event of a natural disaster or technological failure. Despite the adoption of the UNESCO Charter on the Preservation of the Digital Heritage in 2003, there is still insufficient awareness of the risks of loss of photos, music and video recordings, as well as personal or business email, contacts, files and other important digital documents.
Digital information has economic value as a cultural product and as a source of knowledge. It plays a major role in national sustainable development as, increasingly, personal, governmental and commercial information is created in digital form only. But digitized national assets also constitute an immense wealth of the countries concerned and of society at large. The disappearance of this heritage will engender economic and cultural impoverishment and hamper the advancement of knowledge.
Ensuring digital continuity of content can only be overcome if a range of legal, technological, social, financial, political and other obstacles are addressed. The Vancouver Conference therefore seeks to achieve:
- the launch of specific initiatives related to digital preservation and to the fostering of access to documentary heritage through digitization;
- the revision of the UNESCO Charter on the Preservation of Digital Heritage;
- the identification of the legal frameworks and solutions to facilitate long-term digital preservation;
- the agreement on the promotion and/or development of exchange standards;
- the definition of the respective roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders and elaboration of a cooperation model.
The Conference is open to all interested persons, especially those from developing countries, including professionals, academics, industry and government policy makers. More details can be found at the conference website.
Memory of the World
UNESCO launched the Memory of the World Programme to guard against collective amnesia through the preservation of valuable archive, library and museum collections all over the world, and ensuring their wide dissemination. The Programme is intended to protect documentary heritage, and helps networks of experts to exchange information and raise resources for preservation of and access to documentary material.