Report: Roadwork Ahead
In this report we explore the unique nature of the community that builds and maintains free and open-source software (FOSS) and the role that community takes in shaping an open Internet. It draws on interviews with contributors to FOSS projects to highlight the community’s strengths as well as its challenges.It finds that, while the community runs on trust-based relationships, self-organization and self-motivation, these foster a lack of organizational structure and low diversity among contributors. This results in a lack of different skills and perspectives that are necessary for running successful, sustainable projects, and lost opportunities to receive funding and other, non-monetary support.Based on these insights, this report proposes recommendations of how funders can support the FOSS community more effectively. Especially in times where the most foundations focus alleviating the impact of Covid-19 and the biggest tech funder is under pressure, we need to find new and more diverse ways to keep the ecosystem healthy.
This report was supported by the Ford Foundation and the Sloan Foundation in the context of the Critical Digital Infrastructure Research fund. Project partner: Katharina Meyer