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Announcing Digital Infrastructure Incubator Cohort!

We are up and running! October and November saw accepted participants begin their work in the incubator and the first public events accompanying the program. (The next letter will share some resources from the first module of the incubator curriculum and some reflections on sustainability and infrastructure. Stay tuned!)

In mid August, we opened a public call for expressions of interest and over the next month received 49 submissions from projects all over the world at different growth stages. Submissions articulated the need for support in updating project documentation, building out communication patterns and channels; identifying pathways to leadership; sketching governance models; facilitating interoperability across a network; establishing, communicating, and enforcing community guidelines; engaging new or existing communities; and improving translatability, in addition to updating platforms and fixing code. Almost all projects sought support with strategic visioning and funding strategies to support the labor of project contributors and the continued operation of their projects.

After difficult deliberations, we accepted 6 projects, grouped in 3 thematic pairs. While we anticipate significant cross-over and cross-fertilization between the three pairings, we considered the aspect of “pairing” might be useful within the cohort, considering the wide range of disciplines, experiences, and project purviews hosted.

  • Projects in the governance focus area are open source projects dependent on volunteer labor that are working to build a transparent decision-making model that scales with growth; identify clear pathways to leadership; distribute power from one or two “benevolent dictators”; et al.
  • Projects in the community engagement focus areas are teams that are learning how to build in the open; how to engage and retain developers, volunteers, and interested public; and how to build those audiences into the structure (documentation, governance) of their projects.
  • Two projects are led by independent researcher-practitioners thinking about the on-ramps to open science and open software. These two teams are considering how to build the cultural infrastructure needed to further open science and open software among communities where the exposure to working in the open is minimal or doesn’t exist at all.

Without further ado, we're thrilled to welcoming the following projects:

Council Data Project

The Council Data Project builds digital infrastructures to increase the accessibility of municipal legislation.

Incubator participants: Jackson M. Brown and Nicholas Weber

Citation File Format

The Citation File Format is a human- and machine-readable plaintext file format to provide citation metadata for software (or datasets), so that they can be cited correctly.

Incubator participant: Stephan Druskat

Ersilia Open Source Initiative

EOSI strengthens research capacity against neglected diseases via the democratization of AI/ML tools.

Incubator participants: Gemma Turon and Miquel Duran-Frigola

Solar Protocol

SolarProtocol is a global network of small scale off-grid solar powered web servers that direct traffic based on whichever device is in the most sunlight.

Incubator participants: Tega Brain, Alex Nathanson, Benedetta Piantella

Building Community around the R Development Guide

The "R Development Guide" is written to facilitate the on-boarding of new contributors to the R development process. Incubator participants: Saranjeet Kaur Bhogal and Heather Turner

Contextualizing FAIR Principles in the MENA Region

This project explores the cultural infrastructure components for a contextualization of the FAIR principles, one of the most important practices in Open Science, in the Arabic-speaking world.

Incubator participant: Batool Almarzouq

To read more about the projects and the work they will be doing in the incubator, check them out on our website, here.


Building Laterally

In October, the Digital Infrastructure Incubator hosted its first public event accompanying the program. "Labor across the Tech Ecoystem" hosted a panel of whistle-blowers and organizers and gathered perspectives on what building sustainable work looks like in the gig economy, in big tech, and in startups. It is the first event of 5 in a new public series, Building Laterally: Political Imagination to Support & Sustain Digital Infrastructure. Check out next month's event on Anti-Oppression Frameworks in F/LOSS coming up on December 8, 2021.


Background

Part of the Digital Infrastructure RFP, the Digital Infrastructure Incubator is designed to amplify the impact of research-based recommendations for best practices concerning sustainability, governance, and community health in digital public infrastructure projects. To that end, the cohort program hosts 6 open source projects as they iterate solutions around a sociotechnical challenge their projects face. Incubator participants each receive a $5,000 stipend in addition to curated bibliographies, selections of prototypes, one-on-one sessions with mentors, and opportunities to connect and share with the cohort as well as the larger CS&S network of projects and experience.


Featured image by erin mckenna on Unsplash.