I ♥ GitHub

Over the last two or three weeks, a substantial subset of my friends and colleagues have started using GitHub to host some of their personal projects. I’m really enjoying this influx, and it’s inspiring in a way I didn’t really expect. GitHub has done nothing less than to make my friend’s coding activity visible to me, and mine visible to them. This doesn’t sound like much, but it’s simply transformative; If this is how “normal” people feel about Facebook, then I can start to understand how it’s captured so much mindshare.

Coding in the Open

Visibility is inspiration and accountability. Watching talented developers Get Things Done™ around me gives me impetus to start putting something together of my own. Neil was creating a new repository every day at one point, and Norm’s potential set of projects is great to see. The whole group of Londoners are setting an example I’d like to live up to, and at the same time generating gentle social pressure for me to build something exciting of my own. Watching practically everyone I know fork Norm’s homedir immediately after he put it online is simply brilliant. I want that to happen to my projects. You couldn’t ask for better, more constructive peer pressure.

To that end, I’m putting as much of my current code as possible out into the open. I’m not generating a whole lot of code that I’d expect to be of use to anyone but myself at the moment, but even so, I work harder when I know that people I respect will be seeing what I’m producing. I’m coding for myself, but an audience changes the way I think about what I’m doing; The simple fact that my friends are following my progress on GitHub is reason enough to try to exceed their expectations.

Moreover, I’ve been able to convince myself that even robot’s opinions matter. Just knowing that CalendarAboutNothing is watching my every commit gives me reason to make sure that I make a little bit of time every day to sit down and write something resembling quality code. It’s a simple thing, and has been much more effective than I thought it would be over the last ~2 weeks. I highly recommend trying it out; soon you’ll be just as hooked on big red X’s as I’ve become.