Open Collective
Open Collective

Digital Infrastructure Insights Grants

Research grants for the study of digital infrastructure maintenance.

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Projects

Support the following initiatives from Digital Infrastructure Insights Grants.

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Cutting through open washing: to what extent should regulation facilitate the development of open...

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How do critical technologists imagine their future work on digital infrastructures after the pyrr...

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What are the most effective governance/administration structures in place on Fediverse instances ...

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How to build a calculator to model & communicate incentives & costs of transitioning an OSS proje...

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What role do “open technologies” play in environmental research infrastructures ?

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How susceptible are city governments to OSS vulnerabilities & how can they promote OSS as a publi...

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What factors limit the adoption and use of open digital infrastructure in the domain name system?

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How effectively do Interactive Management Research interventions advance thriving in distributed ...

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How to design tools that encourage and support dependency replacement without overwhelming maint...

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How have the recent mass layoffs and rebudgeting within the Western technology industry impacted ...

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Digital Infrastructure Insights program 2023 - 2025

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Operational budget for the Digital Infrastructure Insights grants initiative

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+ 2

Top financial contributors

1
Ford Foundation

$605,000 USD since Aug 2020

2
Sloan Foundation

$605,000 USD since Feb 2021

3
Omidyar Network

$200,000 USD since Oct 2020

4
Open Society Foundations

$100,000 USD since Jul 2020

5
Mozilla Foundation

$25,000 USD since Aug 2020

Digital Infrastructure Insights Grants is all of us

Our contributors 7

Thank you for supporting Digital Infrastructure Insights Grants.

About


Everything in our modern society, from hospitals and banks to universities and social media platforms, runs on software. Nearly all of this software is built on “digital infrastructure,” a foundation of free and public code that is designed to solve common challenges. The benefits of digital infrastructure are numerous: it can reduce the cost of setting up new businesses, support data-driven discovery across research disciplines, enable complex technologies such as smartphones to talk to each other, and allow everyone to have access to important innovations like encryption that would otherwise be too expensive. Sharing code to address common challenges is in principle cheaper, easier and more efficient.

While the collective action problems that characterize infrastructure funding are well-explored, the industrial organization of digital infrastructure is less well-understood. In 2016, the Ford Foundation funded a report by Nadia Eghbal titled “Roads and Bridges: The Unseen Labor Behind Our Digital Infrastructure” that described how that the development and maintenance of digital infrastructure often falls to communities of volunteers who take it upon themselves to maintain this infrastructure in their own free time and for little or no money. Unsurprisingly, this leads to significant risks to the open internet and the ability to develop new, innovative research and businesses within it.

In order to better understand the incentives and constraints that influence the maintenance of digital infrastructure, in 2018 the Sloan and Ford Foundations funded a portfolio of 13 research projects. In some cases the findings of these projects open up further questions, while in others they suggest interventions that could strengthen community practices.

To continue to advance this agenda, this RFP invited proposals to further study the maintenance of digital infrastructure. This new RFP is being funded again by Ford Foundation and Sloan Foundation as well as Mozilla, Omidyar and Open Society Foundations. .

In addition, for this second phase we've invited proposals that would move findings from the first funded research cohort into practice. 

Given the impacts and challenges facing open source communities worldwide, these research projects span the globe, including initiatives in the United States, South Africa, India, Brazil, and Mexico. Researchers will focus on issue areas including: 

  • How COVID data systems are created and transformed by the open source community; 
  • How indigenous communities and land defenders in Brazil have been using digital infrastructure in their fight against climate change; 
  • How do perceptions of unfairness when contributing to an open source project affect their sustainability; 
  • How public-private cooperation at the national level in India can support the development of software solutions to digitize government services. 

Our team

Budget


Transparent and open finances.

-$16,666.66 USD
Approved
Invoice #188438
-$86.46 USD
Approved
Reimbursement #188437
Added funds #737618
$
Today’s balance

$329.56 USD

Total raised

$1,416,698.96 USD

Total disbursed

$1,416,369.40 USD