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As winter continued its thaw in the northern hemisphere, a steady stream of mentors and advisors from across the open source landscape came "in" to the Digital Infrastructure Incubator to work with teams. The Incubator hosted sessions on engaging volunteers and volunteer labor, on considerations for scaling open projects, on developing a financial strategy, and on the landscape of digital infrastructure funding.

In 1:1 sessions, teams continue to voice they struggle to prioritize development of documentation all while growth, new opportunities for deployment, new contributors, interns, conference presentations, funding applications, and pitches to donors and strategic partners place demands on project leaders time and attention.

Some teams spent time this month considering boards: defining roles on a board, relationship of this body to other decision-making structures and hierarchies, and the benefits of having one -- hand in hand with different financial strategies and visions of scaling and growth. Other teams continued to work on public-facing documentation, envisioning and refining voice across social media content (Twitter, blogs, GitHub), slide decks, and in presentations to different audiences.



In March, the CSCCE's Lou Woodley facilitated a session in the DII on engaging volunteers. Her facilitation asked participants to consider different aspects of volunteer labor using 5 guiding questions. Around question 2 "What are the benefits we offer to the volunteer?", conversation with Incubator teams and other CS&S projects turned to questions of privilege and access around volunteer labor. Project leaders wondered, How do we ensure benefits we offer to volunteers are not only available to those willing and able to work for free? While most best practices around engaging volunteers encourage recognizing that the volunteer is in a precarious position (largely performing unpaid labor), this turn in the conversation with Woodley drew attention instead to volunteering as a capacity of relative privilege. Those able to volunteer at all get access to benefits that others -- who can't afford to volunteer labor for free -- cannot access. Project leaders wondered if paying all volunteers could work as an equalizing force - refusing to offer opportunities that take advantage of systemic unevenness in capital and access. We're eager to be pointed to program design and strategic thinking along these lines!

Scaling and Growth

Also in March, Mallory Knodel, Chief Technology Officer of the Center for Democracy and Technology, led incubator teams in an informal exploration of considerations for scaling projects. All teams were asked to consider, "what does 'at scale' look like for my project?" Answers ranged considerably from becoming more substantial infrastructure to disappearing completely. Knodel offered remarks on scaling as dependent on documentation and education.

Financial Strategy and Funding

Kaitlin Thaney, executive director of Invest in Open also hosted a dynamic Q&A around financial strategy. We asked Thaney to reflect with us around the question: what's the difference between a financial strategy and a pitch to funders - why is it important to have one? She led teams through a sequence of questions around project goals, visions of growth, and mapping of one's network. Following this session, we gathered this initial list of fundraising resources for open source and open science projects. In another session, Richard Dunks, also of IOI, led Incubator teams through a survey of the landscape of digital infrastructure funding.

Project Updates

The Digital Infrastructure Incubator is featured in Episode 8 of the Digital Infrastructure Fund podcast, which aired on Tuesday, April 19.

Building Laterally Public Event Series

The end of February saw the final panel discussion with outside speakers in the DII's Building Laterally series. In "Coloniality of Digital Infrastructure," Chao Tayiana Maina and Luis Tayori addressed access to and representation in digital and material infrastructures. Further intersections arose around questions of orality, the authority of different forms of knowledge, consent, and power. Recording of the event is available in English and Spanish. Resources gathered in the event are accessible here.

The final event in the series is coming up on April 27. The Practice of Digital Infrastructure will host all 6 teams in the incubator in discussion of the work they've been doing in each of their projects over the past six months. Don't miss it! Register here.

The month of May will see three more internal events hosted in the Incubator exploring theories of change; project diversity, equity, and inclusion; and the futures of building digital infrastructure. Excited to report back on those and to share out some writing and documentation from projects as they wrap up their tenure in the incubator.