Nadia Eghbal is keynoting at linux.conf.au 2017
Does Open Source have a sustainable future? One of linux.conf.au 2017’s four keynote speakers, Nadia Eghbal will help you find out!
18 October 2016
linux.conf.au’s focus in 2017 is The Future of Open Source, so we’re delighted to welcome Nadia, a noted researcher on sustainability in Open Source. She’ll be sharing her insights on the inherent tension between keeping code free and better supporting the people who maintain that code.
linux.conf.au 2017 is taking place in Hobart, Tasmania between Monday 16 January and Friday 20 January, and tickets are now on sale. For more information, see /attend
Previously working in venture capital, in January 2016, Nadia started investigating Open Source as the “digital infrastructure” upon which the tech industry is built.
Her initial reports painted a worrying view of the sustainability of Open Source software: Many Open Source projects – ones that form the vital digital infrastructure that many big organisations in tech and government rely upon – aren’t in very good shape. Much of Open Source is not well-funded, and depends heavily on the contribution of free time on the part of a small pool of maintainers.
She also highlighted that despite building their success on this infrastructure, much of the leadership in the tech industry was largely unaware of these issues.
This research culminated in Roads and Bridges: The Unseen Labor Behind Our Digital Infrastructure, a 142-page report published by the Ford Foundation, that highlights the scale of the problem:
Everybody relies on shared code to write software, including Fortune 500 companies, government, major software companies and startups. In a world driven by technology, we are putting increased demand on those who maintain our digital infrastructure. Yet because these communities are not highly visible, the rest of the world has been slow to notice.
In the face of unprecedented demand, the costs of not supporting our digital infrastructure are numerous. No individual company or organisation is incentivised to address the public good problem alone.
More recently, Nadia has joined GitHub, focusing on finding ways that GitHub can empower open source maintainers to create and nurture thriving, healthy open source projects.