TU Wien Informatics

Should we preserve the world's software history, and can we?

  • By Claudia Vitt (edt.)
  • 2021-06-29
  • Public Lecture
  • Social Responsibility

Roberto Di Cosmo (INRIA, France) and Edward A. Lee (UC Berkeley, USA) discuss the role of software in cultural heritage.

Should we preserve the world's software history, and can we?

  • This is an online-only event.
    See description for details.

Should we preserve the world’s software history, and can we?: Roberto Di Cosmo (INRIA, France)

Moderator & Respondent: Edward A. Lee (UC Berkeley, USA)


Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations. What role does software play in it?

We claim that software source code is an important product of human creativity, and embodies a growing part of our scientific, organisational and technological knowledge: it is a part of our cultural heritage, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure that it is not lost. Preserving the history of software is also a key enabler for reproducibility of research, and as a means to foster better and more secure software for society.

This is the mission of Software Heritage, a non-profit organization dedicated to building the universal archive of software source code, catering to the needs of science, industry and culture, for the benefit of society as a whole. In this presentation Roberto Di Cosmo will survey the principles and key technology used in the archive that contains over 10 billion unique source code files from some 160 millions projects worldwide.

Online Event

To participate, go to the following link, Password: 0dzqxqiy.

All talks will be streamed and recorded on the Digital Humanism YouTube channel. For announcements and slides see the website.

About the Series

Digital humanism deals with the complex relationship between man and machine. It acknowledges the potential of Informatics and IT. At the same time, it points to related apparent threats such as privacy violations, ethical concerns with AI, automation, and loss of jobs, and the ongoing monopolization on the Web. The Corona crisis has shown these two faces of the accelerated digitalization—we are in a crucial moment in time.

For this reason, we started a new initiative—DIGHUM lectures—with regular online events to discuss the different aspects of Digital Humanism. We will have a speaker on a specific topic (30 minutes) followed by a discussion of 30 minutes every second Tuesday of each month at 5:00 PM CEST. This crisis does seriously affect our mobility, but it also offers the possibility to participate in events from all over the world—let’s take this chance to meet virtually.

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