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Why You Should Learn Git Even If You Don't Program (Yet)

Jun 20, 2013

Git is an amazing tool for collaborating. Because it started as the version control mechanism for managing the Linux kernel, it's most often associated with large programming projects, and few people outside (and probably inside) the development community realize its applicability in other areas.

But that's changing. For example, a group of about twenty mathematics professors recently put together a textbook on 'Homotopy Type Theory' using git in combination with an online tool called Github. Passing around word documents, images, and equations might have worked for a team of two, but with more team members, the communication channels became too complicated for email. Git was the glue that made the collaboration possible. You can watch a video of the team's collaboration in this video.

Back in April of 2012, Twitter also put their employee patent agreement, the Innovator's Patent Agreement, on Github with...

"the hope that you will take a look, share your feedback and discuss with your companies. And, of course, you can #jointheflock and have the IPA apply to you."

Some people have event started using git with Github to version control their cooking recipes.

The really amazing thing about git projects is that anyone can easily contribute to these works by what's called forking followed by a pull request. Forking allows you to have your very own version of these documents that you can edit and change anyway you like. A pull request allows you to recommend your changes back to the original authors, essentially saying "hey! how about you accept this change I made back into your version of the project?"

This blog is even controlled with git. Fork it and fix my typos!

To learn more about how to use git from the command line, you can checkout Github's excellent tutorial at try.github.io or in most cases, you can get by just using Github's web interface.

Happy gitting!


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