Imagine being able to access an original copy of the Bitcoin source code, the one that Satoshi Nakamoto open-sourced back in 2008 – 100 years from now. How about 500? Or maybe 1,000 years would get you excited. Well, this could be a possibility, assuming you would live that long.
The Microsoft-owned subsidiary GitHub has launched a new program that will archive public repositories on the platform that will hopefully still be accessible for thousands of years.
The ‘Archive Program’ will see the company and other partners take snapshots of repositories at predetermined dates and encoding these pieces of code on film reels and encase these reels in steel capsules. Then they will keep these steel capsules 250 meters below the ground in a location somewhere on the Norwegian island of Svalbard.
Bitcoin is not the only repository that will be archived. Several other open-source projects have been listed for archiving inducing Ethereum, Dogecoin, and Bitcoin’s second-layer scalability solution Lightning Network. Other non-blockchain codebases include nodejs, OpenSSL, golang, rails, ruby, CocoaPods, and several others.
A common factor amongst these projects is that they are open source and they are popular repositories having massive developers accessing and contributing code regularly on the platform.
Partners to Microsoft in this initiative are Long Now Foundation, the Internet Archive, the Software Heritage Foundation, Arctic World Archive, Microsoft Research, the Bodleian Library, and Stanford Libraries. Together they aim to preserve innovative technology for at least a thousand years and possibly 10,000 years.
“We will protect this priceless knowledge by storing multiple copies, on an ongoing basis, across various data formats and locations, including a very-long-term archive designed to last at least 1,000 years,” the Archive website states.
The archiving program will use a storage scheme known as LOCKSS which stands for “Lots Of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe.” As the name suggests, LOCKSS requires the archivists to store multiple copies of the same source code to mitigate against risks of losing a single copy to unforeseen circumstances. The use of film reels, an age-old technology seems to satisfy this provision or long-term storage as compared to other media such as using hard drives and compact disks.
“Future historians will be able to learn about us from open source projects and metadata,” the website notes. “They might regard our age of open source ubiquity, volunteer communities, and Moore’s Law as historically significant.”
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