R. Stuart Geiger calls himself an Ethnographer of computation and computational ethnographer, and is an Assistant Professor at the University of California, San Diego in the Department of Communication and the Haligiolu Data science Institute.
Dorothy Howard is a Ph.D. student in Communication at UC San Diego, and her interests broadly span across the psychosocial and material effects of sociotechnical systems on society, and on worker's lives and subjectivities.
In this session, Stuart and Dorothy will present findings about the work of maintaining community-based free and/or open-source software (F/OSS) projects, focusing on invisible and infrastructural work. Many F/OSS projects have become foundational across academia, industry, government, journalism, and activism. Although F/OSS projects provide immense benefits for society, they are often created and sustained by volunteer labor. Their maintainers often struggle with how to sustain and support their projects, particularly for projects lower down the stack like software libraries, operating systems, or kernels, which become adopted as infrastructure. Some growing projects transition into non-profit foundations, startups, or corporate patronage, while others stand against more traditional organizational models and align with more decentralized, cooperative, or ‘hacker’ cultures.