Software is the key

We need software to communicate with our family and friends, to learn, to teach, to share,  to access entertainment or book travels, to pay bills and purchase goods. Software powers the machines we use to travel, communicate, trade and exchange. Software lies at the heart of large complex systems such as medical equipment, airplanes or power plants as well as simple individual devices such as cell phones or watches.

Our lives depend on software, our industry depends on software, our whole society depends on software.

Software is knowledge

A steadily growing amount of technological knowledge is embodied in software artifacts that are becoming ubiquitous. Our ability to use, understand, adapt, correct, and evolve the devices on which our lives have come to depend relies on our ability to access, understand, adapt, correct, and evolve the software that controls them.

Software is also an essential component of most of the scientific research activities performed today: deep knowledge from fields like mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, finance and social sciences is now inextricably embodied into complex software systems, which model it at a level of detail that goes way beyond that of the usual scientific publications.

Software is fundamental to preserve all digital knowledge

All of our knowledge and culture is being transferred to digital form: not only scientific artifacts and data, but also music, movies, books, correspondence, news, social exchanges, and practically every aspect of our lives is now mediated by digital representations of information, that are then stored on digital media, manipulated, and presented to us through a variety of software tools.

Without the software capable of understanding those digital representation, all this data would have no immediately accessible meaning. Even if we can make plans to preserve digital information on the long term digital information may still irremediably be lost if we do not have access to the software needed to interpret and manipulate it.

Software in itself is precious cultural heritage

A rapidly increasing part of our collective knowledge is embodied in, or dependent on, a wealth of software artifacts that shape all facets of the life of our society.

This knowledge represents a cultural heritage that is of paramount importance to properly preserve and pass over to future generations.

The collection of all software artefacts will provide a unique source book for teaching and learning about all aspects of technology, science and society that are based on Software.

The Software Heritage project

We are building the largest archive of software source code ever conceived. We are doing so in order to preserve the knowledge embedded in software, protect the foundations of our societies, and make widely available all this precious cultural heritage and fundamental learning tool to everybody.