I have to confess I’ve been vaguely following the GitHub scene for awhile now but always considered it a place for hardcore programmers. I had heard that people were using it for other interesting things, most recently last year when App Dot Net put their Terms of Service out there and encouraged folks to fork it and offer their suggestions for modifications. When Alan posted recently about moving Feed2JS over there I decided to follow his lead and start actively using my account to explore the space. I’ll second his recommendation to go through the free CodeSchool lesson on Git to get a general feel for the terminology and how things work.
One model that I really like is how the CUNY Academic Commons and CHNM have their organizations on there to publish code they’re working on. On our best day DTLT could hardly be described as a group of programmers (more like self-described hacks) but I’ve no doubt that we’ll likely have something to contribute what with all the little snippets that Martha writes for WordPress to interact with various plugins and themes. To that end I setup a DTLT organization on there and added Jim and Martha (and yes, this is a callout to Andy Rush that he has to get an account. Get on the bus!). For our first stab at a repo I decided to see if we could use it as a collaborative space to build a proper Terms of Service for the Domain of One’s Own project. DoOO (how do you like that for an acronym?) is an interesting project because it centers around openness and portability of your data. And of course most TOS exist solely to remove certain rights from users. I want to believe with the help of others we can craft something that marries the two ideals. I’d encourage anyone interested to fork the project. This is just one example of a case where you don’t have to be a programmer to help out.
The more I play with the tool the more I start to get a feel for how the platform could be used similar to a wiki to allow versioning and collaboration for writing and research with a strict focus on sharing. I’m experimenting with having a living CV in a repo that I can use to track changes over time. I’ve only just begun to dip my toes in the water but I did my first pull request on Feed2JS today and the more I play the more confident I get with the possibilities.