The UNICEF Office of Innovation releases software under free and open source licenses

Humanitarian open source work: My internship at UNICEF

In December, I received the happy news of an offer for a internship position at UNICEF in the Office of Innovation. The Office of Innovation drives rapid technological innovation by rapid prototyping of new ideas and building full-stack products to make a positive impact in the lives of children. This is a simple answer, but a more detailed description is on our website.

My internship at UNICEF is unique: I support open source community engagement and research as my primary task for the MagicBox project. For years, I’ve done this in open source communities in my free time (namely SpigotMC and Fedora), but never in a professional role. As I navigate my way through this exciting opportunity, I plan to document some of the experience as I go through blogging. My intent is that my observations and notes will be useful to someone else in the humanitarian open source space (or maybe to a future me).

But first, what does “open source community engagement and research” really mean?

What am I actually doing?

“Community engagement” is a buzzword phrase for the open source movement in the 2010s. Often, we hear about “community engagement” or the work of those “leading communities”, but it’s an abstract concept. In other words, building communities of humans and people is hard. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for any community. Every community has its own unique needs and goals. This means different methods of management and communication work better for some communities than others. My job is to help light the way for what this pathway means for the MagicBox team.

Since I started in January, a lot of my time so far was spent learning. What is MagicBox? What are we trying to deliver to our stakeholders? To the open source community? How does our data pipeline piece together? All these questions and more, I’ve tried to answer to different levels of success.

What’s next?

Now, I’m beginning to take a more hands-on role with the work, with a clear vision of what I want to do. The next few posts to come will dive deeper into what I’m up to.

If you have questions or are interested in keeping up with what’s going on, feel free to leave a comment here or subscribe to my blog to automatically receive future updates.

Opinions and views in my blog are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer.