In a report titled Roads and Bridges: The Unseen Labor Behind Our Digital Infrastructure, the Ford Foundation addresses the shared code that companies profit from and individuals benefit from. Are we contributing enough to those that maintain the programs, libraries, and other code? If not financially, are we putting in the hours to help review the code that we heavily rely on? The lack of incentive to perform the upkeep could place us all in a compromising position. We saw this problem rise with OpenSSL and other products that are ubiquitous to our digital lives but were not getting the attention they deserved.
The report is written by Nadia Eghbal and is a 143-page PDF that covers the history of our infrastructure, the current setup, challenges, maintenance required to sustain it, and opportunities ahead. I recommend reading the report, or at least taking the time to read the executive summary on page 8, to get a thorough understanding of the problem presented.
Just like physical infrastructure, digital infrastructure needs regular upkeep and maintenance. But financial support for digital infrastructure is much harder to come by.
Sustaining our digital infrastructure is a new topic for many, and the challenges are not well understood. In this report, Nadia Eghbal unpacks the unique challenges facing digital infrastructure, and how we might work together to address them.