Looking back we see that key aspects of human culture disappear in the course of time. In part catastrophes play a role, in part documents - texts, pieces of art, buildings, etc. - are destroyed, decay or get lost. We must expect that our culture is subject to similar processes, and products of our culture will disappear. What will get lost and what will remain is a largely matter of coincidence.
The human document intends to make sure that key aspects of contemporary culture can remain for very long time. Current ways of data storage are unsuitable for long time storage. In particular high density data storage is designed for faithfully storage for 10 years only. However we now see the technologies emerging capable of storing information in high density for enormous time scales.
There cannot be much doubt that the way we live is not supported by a final world in the long run. A major change of our culture must therefore be expected. This might come about by a slow decay or by a collapse. In either case, a big part of us will be forgotten.
In case of a global catastrophe, perhaps as a consequence of the climate change induced by our release of CO2 in the atmosphere, perhaps by the imminent increase of glaciation, the Human Document can be seen as a gift for those who have to start over again.
The project deals with all aspects that are relevant: its contents, the system, the technology, the material of the data carrier, protection of the storage media, coding. It is a multidisciplinary project in which virtually all sciences and arts have to contribute, with interesting technological challenges. Perhaps the most interesting aspect is that, since all conceivable systems are finite but can be quite large, a choice on the contents has to be made. This requires thinking of the human condition: Who are, what are, what do we find worth to preserve.