A Git History and Philosophy of Science
On the left, you’ll see a little clock icon - this opens the article’s History: a Git-based log of updates and edits authors have applied to the article. This post should hopefully only have one entry as it’s short and typed in one sitting (edit: this is never the case), but we all make mistakes.
Two interesting ideas to meditate on, w.r.t. science and scholarly communication:
1.) What would a Git history look like for an entire piece of research, or even just the many iterations of a single experimental procedure? GitHub does this for software development of course (we can integrate your articles with your GitHub repos by the way), but there’s a whole untapped academic ecosystem - how do thoughts mature and develop in other fields?
2.) If you had a Git History of Science, there would be so many re-additions and re-deletions and entire huge sections removed (phlogiston, anyone?), Compare views would be a wash of green and red. How many “mistakes” have been made and re-made over time? What could we learn from the trends and developments of knowledge?
Science is really a process and a way of thinking. Why aren’t we keeping better track of the thought process and showing errors made along the way? It would help us build or fork better off each others’ works for one thing. Less redundancies and unnecessary pitfalls as well. Plus “mistakes” are a helpful and fateful force in the scientific process itself. Think about any great thinker, writer, artist, maker. I bet any of their rough drafts would seem pretty valuable now.
In what other ways might we benefits from having detailed histories of inventive, creative, and thoughtful processes?