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Research on the sustainability of participation in FSFE

I’m a sociologist and I currently work as a researcher at IT University of Copenhagen, where I am responsible for “Infrastructuring SuStainable Playbour“ (ISSP): a project I received funding for from the EU/H2020 framework, under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action – Individual Fellowship fund.

This project investigates the sustainability of collaborative spaces, as commons, and it focuses on participants’ continuous contribution to the maintenance and development of such ‘places’.

The research involves three case studies, and I think that the community of volunteers and supporters contributing to FSFE constitutes a very interesting case to focus on: FSFE is an enduring non-profit organization that, since more than 15 years, is working for raising awareness and promote Free Software at different levels and in different ways. FSFE is also a distributed network of people, who contribute their time and effort to this goal and, as such, is vital to the organization.

In this research, I cover the challenges that are implied in actively participating for an extended period of time, and I’m also interested, for instance, in the reasons for abandoning a community or stopping to contribute. A substantial part of the research will be looking at how these challenges are conveyed by and reflected in the tools, procedures, policies of the collaborative environment, broadly understood.

Goal of ISSP is to devise an empirically grounded set of organizational/design principles that support the sustainability of the collaborative commons. The case on FSFE (together with the other two) will contribute to this goal.

In practice, the case study will involve ‘ethnographic observations’ (of FSFE collaborative infrastructure) and semi-structured interviews. Thus, no automated data gathering is involved in this research and no sensitive data are expected to be collected. Furthermore, anonymity of participants will be preserved in any dissemination activity related to this research.

If you are contributing, or contributed in the past, to FSFE mission, I might get in touch with you 🙂

Also, if you have any comment or question about the research, feel free to comment on this post!