Ford Foundation: 2023 Digital Infrastructure Insights Fund

The D//F (Digital Infrastructure Insights Fund) is a multi-funder initiative by Ford Foundation, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Omidyar Network, Schmidt Futures and Open Collective sustaining a platform for researchers and practitioners to better understand how open digital infrastructure is built and deployed.

We’re creating a body of research and implementation insights that advance our goal to ensure a public commons of technology, sustainably developed and maintained, for the benefit of everyone.

Open Digital Infrastructure is a distinct area of focus that sits in intersection with a number of critical technology ecosystems such as cybersecurity, data, and the internet. More insights are needed to distinguish how this digital public good (=open code, policies and standards) and its creators can be supported best.

Our approach is interdisciplinary. Inter alia,
we are looking for analyses on how underlying free and open-source software (FOSS) interacts with politics, sovereign responsibilities, diverse economic sectors, and the advancement of knowledge in the sciences and beyond.
we aim to back the development of pertinent work that examines the convergence of open-source software and digital infrastructure with social movements focused on democracy, rights, justice, the environment and scientific research.
we seek to investigate the issue of under-maintenance and occasional undermining of FOSS, as well as explore any geographical or other disparities within the communities responsible for providing and sustaining these software components amid evolving regulatory and socio-technical circumstances.
Our 2023 RFP thus invites new proposals to study the production, maintenance, governance and use of open digital infrastructure, looking at, but not limited to, the aspects listed in our Funding Scope.

We believe that newly created knowledge can sometimes be best put into effect via pragmatic interventions like frameworks, policy work or strategic communications. Small-scale prototype implementations that translate prior research findings into practice are thus also invited next to original research, quantitative as well as qualitative methodologies.