Last week UNESCO released the Vancouver Declaration on Digitization and Preservation (press release and declaration text pdf). The document was the result of UNESCO's 26-28 September 2012 conference on The Memory of the World in the Digital Age: Digitization and Preservation. In reading the text, this is an important document for the family history and genealogy community. It is a fairly short document, but has some key suggestions for private sector organizations and organizations in the cultural heritage sector.
For example, three recommendations at the end of the document urge private sector organizations to:
"a. cooperate with archives, library, museum and other relevant organizations to ensure long-term accessibility to digital information;
b. adhere to recognized metadata standards designed in cooperation with information professionals for description and/or management of digital resources, in order to enable interoperability of sources that can be presumed authentic and guaranteed reliable and accurate;
c. take digital preservation issues into consideration when participating in national and international standards initiatives and in their work on multi-jurisdictional and other partnership initiatives where information generated in a digital format is to be retained through the long term."
In my primary field I work to support a global interoperable Internet. As an enabler for the sharing of knowledge, the Internet works because it can be used across borders, devices, languages and character sets. The Internet provides the means to explore and understand our history in powerful ways.
When I read the Vancouver Declaration, I see the need for modern, open standards for the sharing and preservation of family history data (see 9 October 2012 - Information Standards in the Family History Space). A number of private sector entities took part in the Vancouver conference. Major players in the family history information standards community should be aware of this document and consider how it can be useful to their efforts.