Open Digital Infrastructure

Open Digital Infrastructure represents the set of open-source code, standards and knowledge assets that digital building blocks like software libraries, compilers, communication or network protocols are composed of.

They are created by individuals, volunteer communities, in research institutions and SMEs or other corporate environments. Together, they form a foundation of free and public code that is designed to solve common challenges – firstly, in programming, but when applied, also to provide a multitude of core functions for society.

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Unmaintained dependencies

Research Question
How to design tools that encourage and support the replacement of unmaintained dependencies without overwhelming maintainers?
Why is this important to answer?

The reliance on FOSS raises concerns about the sustainability and security of its digital infrastructure, often maintained by volunteers. FOSS abandonment poses a risk as maintainers may disengage for various reasons. Current sustainability efforts focus on keeping projects alive, but attention is needed on effective sunsetting strategies. Research shows that abandoned FOSS projects are common, and users often switch to better-maintained alternatives. A proactive approach is proposed, offering warnings for unmaintained dependencies and suggesting alternatives. Existing tools are emerging, but the challenge lies in making them useful without overwhelming users with notifications. Further usability research is needed to understand how developers prioritize updates and design tools that require minimal manual configuration.

Start Date
February 1, 2024
Bogdan Vasilescu
Carnegie Mellon University
Christian Kästner
Carnegie Mellon University