GitHub Linguistics

The ProfHacker blog recently hosted a series of posts on GitHub, which is generally used as an online collaboration/version control/code sharing system for programmers. I have never used GitHub (mitcho suggested I post my tree drawing software there, but I haven’t done it yet), but ProfHacker got me thinking about how linguists might use GitHub.

This would be a lot easier on GitHub

This would be a lot easier on GitHub

The blog posts concentrated on how this resource might be used for non-discipline-specific academic tasks, for instance, saving versions of your syllabus (which someone else could “fork” and change for themselves) or collaborating with co-authors around the world. But perhaps we could put GitHub to some more radical uses:

  • Truly massive collaboration on a paper, with people able to fix typos, make/suggest changes, and add data from their own language/area of expertise.
  • Easier workflow for authors and editors/typesetters to work together on a manuscript.
  • Projects in formalized grammars like HPSG, which are even closer to computer code, what GitHub excels at.
  • I could imagine developing some sort of format halfway between an academic paper and a formal, computationally-implemented grammar, like “pseudo-code” for linguistics theories.  This format could be a less wordy way to simply present the theory without arguments for it.
  • Regression testing for theories — collaboratively edited lists of data points that a theory of X should cover.

Any other ideas?

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