A few years ago we worked with four members of a family who wanted to collaborate on a family history book. The problem was that they all lived in different states. Trying to manage their contributions and revisions of the manuscript was not always easy for anyone involved. So, I was excited when I saw a recent Wired article that described, GitHub, a new tool for online collaboration and version control.
GitHub was originally created to help software developers to manage collaborative open source projects As Wired explained, “It keeps track of who made what changes where. And it helps merge all those changes together. It “controls” the various versions of an open source software project.”
Recently GitHub has been employed to manage collaborative projects far beyond software development. Groups as diverse as scientists studying DNA and people tracking a bills’s evolution as it moves through Congress on its way to law are employing GitHub to manage their projects. Indeed, as Wired put it, GitHub is “taking the internet by storm.”
Wired published an article to test the system, Lord of the Flies: How GitHub Tamed Free Software (and More) and a second article, The Meta Story: How Wired Published Its GitHub Story on GitHub, to report on the results
Examining the experience Wired describes, GitHub would work perfectly for authors collaborating on a book project. It would be particularly valuable for people working on family history book manuscripts because it would allow introduction of new research and revision in a way that allows all of the parties involved to literally be on the same page.
If you are working on a collaborative project or think you might be, check out GitHub. Let us know what you think!