Github: A Great Hijacked Idea

Github of Yore


Human beings are inherently social creatures, for better or worse. When they are NOT being social, it is most often the case that there was some reason that led inexorably to their new default unsocial state. Github, then, the version-controlled codebase which is social, would seem to be the most prosocial network ever invented for a usually inherently anti-social people–computer programmers.

My Github Entry

I came into Github back when their structure was officially this:

GitHub, Inc. was originally a flat organization with no middle managers; in other words, “everyone is a manager” (self-management).] Employees could choose to work on projects that interested them (open allocation), but salaries were set by the chief executive.

In other words, I started participating lightly in that community back when people could work on what they wanted to. A few years later they would trip over hosting something like 3 million files and then after that in 2018 Microsoft swooped in and bought them up.

I have had to rub elbows with people who have had to rub elbows with those in the upper echelons of Microsoft in the past. I did not like the company in the 90’s, I and still don’t like it now. I don’t like it for precisely the reason they bought Github. They come in and have infinite amounts of resources that they offer to buy the work of people who otherwise are going on about the business of coding, and they introduce the Golden Apple of Discord right on into Paradise. When they get done, everybody who was formerly doing their own thing have turned into some sort of Microsoft Borg collective. For this reason, I hate dealing with Microsoft and so I rarely use their products.

Linux and Microsoft

Lately, though, Linux and Microsoft had been in bed with one another in odd, disturbing ways. For Microsoft, the advantage is obvious–they want to find some way to take all the “Free code” out there and look like they are being some kind of open source philanthropists because they “love the community” so much. Linus helped develop git, which is the version control system implemented to help share code with others collaboratively.

My Latest Go

When Github announced that Microsoft was taking it over in 2018, I deleted all my files I had hosted there. I moved the bulk over to Gitlab. The problem? Well, the Federation. The wha? Did you just move into some Star Trek domain, JB? I suppose so.


Github is an excellent “walled garden” in the sense that it allows you to share code with most anyone in a way most people now understand. Gitlab is a self-hosted alternative that is not as widely adopted, but also is not owned by Microsoft and is instead owned by CERN folks. Given the choice between the makers of such items as the Atomic Bomb and the Internet and Microsoft, I will pick the former. That gives you an idea of how much I hate Microsoft.

Git Changes

It has been some time since I used Github, and had cause to today since I wanted to “Fork something” and then make a “pull request”. Basically this meant I wanted to pull some code, branch it, change something about it, and then merge it back to where I got it from with the change included. Trouble is, I don’t use Github for much of anything and instead tried to use Gitlab. Guess what? Gitlab and Github don’t “federate”. In other words, Github, in specific, won’t let you play with other services. How Microsoft of them!

Github and Tokens

When I was younger, occasionally we would go to Show Biz Pizza place. There were lots of robots there that played various songs and many games that would spit out tickets. To play the games, you had to have tokens. Kids enjoyed it, but it was pretty much an adult nightmare. When I got done with Githubbing the stuff I needed to Github, it told me that my password technique that I use to access the service is only something old foggies do. Apparently all the cool kids are moving on over into “tokens”. I have seen tokens in other applications, and I have also seen the use of SSH for all manner of networking needs. So, I get it from a security perspective. On the other hand, I felt like I was back in Show Biz with the creepy robots and the “fun” all the kids ought to be having in the ball pit. There was always something vaguely disturbing about the seeming natural combination of kids and robots. Nowadays, with all the discussion concerning “sex robots” for human beings, I think that perhaps Show Biz might have had more sinister undertones than any of us imagined back then.

Github and Changing Too Much Crap

Github and other technology places are changing things so frequently that it is hard to keep up. Most of this is in response to the web warfare raging, but it is not as though Microsoft was not warned about this frequently and ignored it. One only need to recall the hacking group Cult of the Dead Cow to remember how all the warnings fell on deaf ears. Instead, Microsoft threw money at PR to say there was no problem, until it was undeniably in a situation where the problem was all too evident. The web itself is an infrastructure that is not secure nor what is really designed to be. If you want to fix that problem, it is going to take more than Show Biz pizza tokens.

In Summary

When I got done using Github, it reminded me a little of having gone to Show Biz as a kid–like I ate a little too much cheese pizza, played a few too many games that cost too much–didn’t have enough tickets to get anything cool, and like I needed to watch my six at all times for any incoming bogies. Oh, and let’s not forgot the feeling of seeing a bunch of robots on stage…

JB Schirtzinger

Jacksonville, USA
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Conveniently this entire site is about me. I do some technology, and I do some astrology.