Adventskalender Day 11 – GitHub: The only digital Social Network…

…, that I’d miss if it died.

That is a bold statement and probably makes me seem like a bubble boy. But what I want to do is provoke, polarize, move, inspire, make you read the article, comment and maybe even change the way you think.

The popularity of social networks has long went beyond nerds and online activists. At the very latest since facebook, even my grandma knows about social networks and it is more or less worthwhile to follow the updates of authors on various social networks, to read them, to analyze them. In one certain case that is different – GitHub.

Primarily, GitHub is – at least that’s what if feels like today – a platform to have an exchange with programmers. The platform is developed for uploading any kind of text content, usually programming code. These codes can be commented and discussed down to the level of single characters. Among many other options, it is possible to follow a single person, a small group or bots and see their public or private day-to-day activity on the platform. In short: a repository with discussions. Plus, there is the option to share your content publicly or privately. If you choose private, you can still pick users that can access your content – a closed network.


Own Creations

Normally, I develop a solution for a problem or goal. A code or text is developed, that takes care of the problem, which is mostly my own creation. Of course, there are projects that are developed by a team, but often and especially in the case of open projects on GitHub, those lines are my own creation. There comes the point, when feedback, quality assurance and evaluation become important. I am a person that wants to learn something new every day. With code, learning and reconsidering is always possible and showing your projects can be a huge help.

Even today, most code projects are usually created behind closed doors. An open discussion rarely occurs. Sure, companies have review and QA processes, maybe they use “software peer review” or other methods. However, many companies still don’t like sharing their work with the public.
I think the world is changing with regard to public display of creations, and GitHub is certainly a contributing factor.

Social Base

Starting a project on GitHub means focusing on social exchange. I don’t have any numbers to back it up, but I don’t think there is any place with more discussions about lines of code than GitHub. I also think that the possibilities of GitHub have contributed to the increase of libraries, solutions and extensions for everyday solutions.
Looking at WordPress, that is impossible to overlook. The number of projects on GitHub is constantly rising. The search term brings up more and more results and only part of it finds its way into the official WortPress repository. Reputation is impotant and currently, is an important aspect in the WordPress environment. But social networks like Stack Exchange and GitHub already are a good source of works and authors as well.

Converting Consumers into Producers

Anthony Wing Kosner

The discussion, the exchange about the solutions created is important. But sometimes it’s not just about the discussion. GitHub is based on Git and thus, possibilities like fork and pull request are available. A project can be derived of others and changed or enhanced through own lines, complete solutions and redesign. New content in the derived repository can be added to the original. That possibility is not commonplace. It gives us the power to work on a subject, to contribute. Suddenly, consumers become producers. This way, GitHub creates a new world of learning.

This is a very special stage for a project. It’s when there is the highest chance of a project learning to fly, out of the creator’s basement. Depending on how many people work together, the developing time can be accelerated a lot and the popularity increases. Usually, both sides – originator and contributors – are amazed to see the project mature and change so fast. To me, that’s an important part of developing. I want to make my ideas available to the world and the people and I am always happy about constructive criticism and improvements. The contributions have always been helpful and the worst case is that there is a debate, which I am more than willing to have in order to get reasonable results.

The features of Git are new and different to many, but they have found a lot of fans. Forking is a term that has become essential for developers. At the same time, this idea is catching on. The idea to derive something from its origin, to enhance and change it and, if necessary, put the two back together also makes sense for non-code subjects. The process can also help creating pure text contents. This idea and the demand lead to projects like Post Forking. A WordPress plug in that introduces the possibilites of Git to an article content environment.
I have contributed to this plug in, which uses the possibilities of forking and requesting. There was also the option of working on it on Contributer Day at WordCamp Europe. It quickly turned out, that the code and the realization ware no problem at all. Conveying the potential of fork, pull, merge etc. to a non-coder is the hard part. Translations into different languages are not easy, as they have to express the possibility without much explanation. Still, everyone on the team agrees that there is potential in the use for articles and authors can be given new possibilities.

It may well be noticeable already. I like working with Git. GitHub is just one Git-based platform. There are many more. GitHub was one of the first popular platforms to allow free open repositories, which is probably one of the reasons for GitHub’s popularity. Also you get an UI, which is fun and the constant development gives you the feeling, that you are in the right place. Of course, a platform only lives through its users and other platforms like Bitbucket also have their right to exist. I don’t like monopolists, so there is kind of a personal conflict. I just don’t want to do without the possibilities and the exchange of GitHub.

Alternative Social Networks

Twitter, Facebook, Strava, etc. are pouplar networks. Their content is diverse and – in my opinion – can not really be compared to GitHub. Does that mean that they’re less important? No. I think they’re equally important, even if I hardly use them. They have changed and enhanced the way people communicate and created new possibilities in that environment. The decision about a network – digital or analog – should be made by everyone for himself.

Still, to me, GitHub is different in many ways – and better for my interests. GitHub is the right place for developing new ideas with code. If other people interested, an idea can learn to fly – consumers become producers and might even be able to set a new standard, which can be actively used and maintained.
GitHub features more than I can and want to explain here. The platform also offers possibilities to create other processes and options. I have seen follow-up processes like automatic supply of code products via API to other services or platforms. What’s more, GitHub will further change the way people communicate, work on projects and learn online. Ignoring GitHub is a mistake and companies should get involved in this world.

These reasons have lead me to the realization, that GitHub is the only social network that I would miss, if it would die.

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Alpinist, Cyclist, Optimist. I develop and support solution, primarily with SAP Business Software as Software Architect at Carl Zeiss AG and I help Companies make WordPress-based software and solutions with a great team at the Inpsyde GmbH.

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