This week, Network post-doc Justin Longo and Tanya Kelley, both of Arizona State University's Center for Policy Informatics, published an examination of GitHub's capacity for fostering public sector collaboration at Brookings, under the guidance of Network member and director of the Center for Policy Informatics Erik Johnston.
"What distinguishes GitHub are its built-in social networking functions, back-end data capture and on-board reporting, and the principles of distributed version control and openness owing to the underlying Git architecture. It’s easy to tag a username in an issue or comment, and profile pages provide details on a user’s activity, allowing users to evaluate each other’s reputations and build a community of collaborators. Beyond the idea of social coding, the data capture and reporting features along with the open nature of distributed version control are the most exciting features of GitHub.
It is these features that provide the foundation for investigating what we think is an emerging new approach to collaboration in our governing institutions and governance settings. Attempts to integrate these new approaches will face barriers from prevailing cultural norms within institutions while at the same time disrupting those cultures. There are important similarities between GitHub and the introduction of the World Wide Web in government twenty years ago that ought to focus less attention on GitHub’s current deficiencies and more towards what its underlying features might mean for the future of governance and governing."