Episode 7

Caroline Sinders on the Importance of Diverse Commmunities


November 29th, 2021

37 mins 40 secs

Your Host
Special Guest

About this Episode


Caroline Sinders

Show Notes

Hello and welcome to the Digital Infrastructure Fund podcast! This is the podcast where we focus on recipients of the Digital Infrastructure Grant Fund which has funded by multiple funders. We don’t just interview current cohorts, but also past cohorts who have gotten funding from this grant pool.

Today, we have Caroline Sinders, the Founder of Convocation Design + Research, as well as a lecturer at the London College of Communication in their Data Visualisation Masters program. She’s an artist and researcher and a lot of work she does is on online gender-based violence, as well as community health and toxicity. Caroline goes in depth about the grant she received funding for: “What can the history of JavaScript teach us about techniques to mitigate harassment (a barrier to diversity and a threat to the sustainability of digital infrastructure projects) in open source communities?” We learn about the JSConfs, Codes of Conduct, and responding to harassment. Also, Caroline explains three types of infrastructure she looks at -- social, technical, and political -- and she tells us about the accountability ladder. Go ahead and download this episode now to find out much more!

[00:01:17] Caroline tells us more about this grant she was given and why this grant sounded like a good idea.

[00:07:58] We hear more about the JSConfs that happen all around the world.

[00:10:16] Find out how Caroline studied the JavaScript communities.

[00:11:49] How does Caroline know if a community is healthy? She mentions BrooklynJS, which has talks that are related to bigger problems in technology.

[00:17:23] Caroline mentions interviewing Kim Crayton and Jen Schiffer for this project, and she held a convening with members from Simply Secure, NYC Resistor, and Babycastles. She also talks about a great Code of Conduct book by Valerie Aurora.

[00:20:28] Richard tells us how he felt so involved going to a BrooklynJS meetups and Caroline goes in depth how this project exists because of BrooklynJS. She also tells us when she moved to San Francisco she went WaffleJS, moved to Berlin and went to BerlinJS, and how it made her feel like a part of the community.

[00:23:03] Richard wonders what Caroline thinks the takeaways are for large corporate events or for corporate open source, and if she feels like it makes it much hard to say implement anti-harassment techniques or to deal with code of conduct violations. Also, if she would change her report towards a more mature ecosystem.

[00:25:45] Find out about the Accountability Ladder by Eva Howe and why it’s so important.

[00:32:10] Richard asks Caroline where she sees her work going to help understand how we can build all of our technical infrastructure better off.

[00:37:01] Find out where you can follow Caroline online.


[00:14:52] “One of the ways I can think of measuring toxicity is how amenable is the entire community, as well as the organizers to having [hard] conversations.”

[00:25:18] “It’s important that you have a space if someone feels uncomfortable, that they can go and sit in that’s private, but it’s not accessible to the rest of the conference.”

[00:30:36] “When you design for the most vulnerable, you make the safest kinds of experiences. And it’s really important that we do that!”