Trying to understand how people work. I try to engage in both theory and practice, which means I'm always cycling between writing to understand a topic, then finding ways to test those ideas in the "real world."
I'm currently researching what the new tech elite will look like, with a grant from Emergent Ventures.
Previously, I explored parasocial communities and reputation-based economies as an independent researcher at Protocol Labs. I put those ideas into practice by joining Substack as their second employee, focused on the writer experience.
I spent many years exploring the funding, governance, and social dynamics of open source software. I put those ideas into practice at GitHub, where I worked to improve the developer experience. I also published a book about open source developers, Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software (Stripe Press).
If you're curious about this website's meta-ethos, check out this Q&A.
(Note: I recently changed my last name; you can also find my work under Nadia Eghbal.)
In the summer of 2022, with support from Schmidt Futures, I took a closer look at several emerging science funding mechanisms – rapid grants, scout programs, and focused research organizations (FROs) – to understand how they serve the needs of early stage science. I also conducted interviews with funders, program administrators, and grantees to understand their goals, operations, and intended impact, and how their work fits into the existing science funding landscape.
Climate is a gravity well for talent, but why don’t other, equally impactful topics attract talent in the same way? Why isn’t everyone dropping everything to work on homelessness, or global poverty, or curing cancer? With many peers in tech now working on climate issues, I tried to understand why this topic holds such purchase for so many people – and its incredible staying power over the decades.
I didn’t always know that I wanted to have kids. I wasn’t against it, necessarily – for awhile, there were just more reasons in the “why not” column than the “why”: uncertainty about whether I’d be a good parent, fear of losing my identity, a lack of maternal instinct. Those reasons gradually faded away as I grew older and got to know myself better.