GitHub Completes Arctic Vault Drop
Written by Kay Ewbank   
Tuesday, 20 September 2022

GitHub has added yet more material to the Arctic Vault in Svalbard, and says this completes its part of the task. The vault now contains the 02/02/2020 snapshot of every active public GitHub repository for 1,000 years, as well as full-text copies of Wikipedia and Stack Overflow.

GitHub's Arctic Code Vault is a data repository preserved in the Arctic World Archive (AWA), a very-long-term archival facility 250 meters deep in a decommissioned coal mine in the Svalbard archipelago.


GitHub's latest addition to the archive is a steel vault that's etched with AI-generated art to make it more appealing to mystified future explorers. Along with every active public GitHub repository, the archive also includes a Tech Tree, a human-readable selection of works describing software, computers.


GitHub has described the open source software contained in the vault as "a hidden cornerstone of modern civilization, and the shared heritage of all humanity". While we're big fans of open source, we've obviously missed the wonderful civilizing nature some of it.  GitHub's goal is to secure it for a thousand years, which they acknowledge is an extremely ambitious objective. Anyone using their old Zip drive disks as coffee mug coasters will be thinking this is still understating the difficulty.

GitHub says that the question is not so much whether the archival reels will physically survive, but whether anyone will know or care enough to keep and refer to them. This is the thinking behind the snazzy artwork.


The idea is that even if future finders don't know what it is, they'll work out that it's something extraordinary.

It's a fascinating thought - what will people make of LolCat (embed an image of a cat), or Anime Girls Holding Programming Books, or the one that analyses what Arnold Schwarzenegger's one liners really meant. That's before they even get on to Wikipedia's fascination with Elvis, or Ryan Gosling. 

GitHub says the latest archiving session means that version 1.0 of the GitHub Archive Program is complete, with the new steel vault, the “warm backup” partnerships with the Internet Archive and Software Heritage, and the “Greatest Hits” reels placed in libraries on three continents. However, they say the program is an "ongoing endeavor".

For more see the blog post by Jon Evans.


More Information

GitHub Archive Program

Related Articles

Open Source Software Buried For The Long Term

GitHub's Arctic Archive 

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 20 September 2022 )