GitHub is a social media platform

My first few days on GitHub reminded me of my first few days on Facebook…

I’ve been using git (not well) for a while at Rally, but in the last several weeks I started using GitHub and I can’t say enough how pleasant the experience has been.

I just wanted to tweak the CoffeeScript.mode of Panic!’s Coda editor which was provided not by Panic! but hosted on GitHub by some other code-head like me. I downloaded it, edited it to add the functionality that I wanted and was on my merry way to using it, when I thought, “maybe I should share my improvements back to the community that was was kind enough to provide me with the mode in the first place.”

So, I sent a message on GitHub and included my code changes in the message. The repository owner sent me back a message encouraging me and suggesting that I submit a “pull-request.” What the heck is a “pull-request”? I thought, so I started investigating. I learned that to do a pull request, I couldn’t just download the project’s contents; I had to actually fork it. I’d seen the “Fork me on GitHub” banners on every GitHub page but I never thought much about it before. Just a few clicks and I’m signed up with an account and few minutes later, I’ve forked the project, committed my edits, and submitted my pull-request.

The repository owner wanted me to upgrade my code to support more use cases so another round of edits ensued and then he accepted the request. Since then, I’ve created a couple of other repositories of my own and started managing my code on GitHub. I’ve downloaded the Mac GitHub client and I’m fully sold.

Then today, I was describing the entire experience to someone and it occurred to me that the appeal of GitHub is not technical; it’s social. It has the same sort of pull as social media. My first few days on GitHub reminded me of my first few days on Facebook… I had to create a Facebook account and started using it because someone tagged me in their 20 interesting things about me post. Facebook’s value is directly proportional to how many of my friends and family use it. Similarly, GitHub’s value to me is directly proportional to how many projects that I use are on it… and how much of the potential audience for Lumenize (my as yet unreleased PhD tools that I hope to commercialize… or at least popularize) are on there. I’m now trying to think of ways to redirect Lumenize to be more appealing to the GitHub audience. If folks can fork Lumenize and help it to grow, all the better.


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