Open Collective
Open Collective
2023Q3 Update - Lots of undocumented progress!
Published on September 28, 2023 by Duane O'Brien

Since our last update, we’ve been working on a wide range of activities that I’m excited to share with you. I apologize for not posting more frequent updates. We’ll keep trying to improve on that front, aiming for Quarterly Updates.

- We’ve engaged an additional investigator, Julia Ferraioli.
- We completed a proof-of-concept tool in collaboration with RIT MAGIC.
- We’ve begun collecting OSPO Activity Indicators.
- We’ve started a FOSS Foundation funding analysis.

Open Source Programs Office in 2023

Earlier this year, there were significant layoffs across the tech industry, with Open Source Programs Offices (OSPOs) being especially hard hit. With this far-reaching de-investment in OSPOs, there have been additional challenges to the initial approaches that we laid out in this investigation. We spent some time pivoting to account for reduced budgets, headcount, and capacity for participation across the OSPO space.

Adding An Investigator

We’re excited to have added Julia Ferraioli on the FOCUSED team as an investigator. Julia is specifically focused on developing a new experiment to investigate the way funding decisions are made for people that sponsor open source projects on behalf of their employer. Julia brings a tremendous amount of experience to the table, especially with regards to OSPOs and dependency analysis. We’re looking forward to sharing more about her work in the next update.

Our RIT Collaboration

Over the summer, we worked with RIT MAGIC to develop a proof-of-concept tool that could help identify shared dependencies between organizations using open source attribution/credits files such as this one. The idea is to be able to passively collect open source dependency information using only publicly available information. We had a great experience working with the RIT team on this project, and we hope to have a hosted version of the tool available for review soon.

Collecting OSPO Activity Indicators

We have developed and are testing a tool that will aggregate OSPO Activity Indicators over time. The tool is designed to monitor GitHub organizations for changes that point to the existence and health of a company’s OSPO and/or open source culture. Tracked over time, this data can help identify trends of investment or de-investment in OSPOs by large organizations. We expect to begin making this data available later this year.

Foundation Funding Analysis

We have initiated an analysis of publicly available funding information for non-profit organizations that sit at the heart of the free and open-source software community. Our goal is to map out corporate spending on foundation sponsorships, so that we can track investment and de-investment over time. This analysis is largely manual, but serves as a complement to the OSPO Activity Indicators we are also collecting. We do not yet have a timeline for when this data will be made available, but stay tuned for updates.

We’re glad to see a path forward on our research. We expect to post another update at the end of Q4 with further progress and some data that we can share.