Federating a Git-based policy drafting platform


#1

TL;DR Could ForgeFed also be used as the protocol layer for federating policy forges?

A few years ago I got involved in experiments with public policy development on Loomio.org, primarily with the kiwi Pirate Party, but also with the Kim DotCom funded Internet Party, and to a lesser extent the Universal Kotahitanga group. It quickly became obvious to me that such discussions could not stay out of the quicksand they almost inevitably blundered into without the ability to focus them on producing policy working documents, in the same way discussions in open source development are focused on producing working code. A traditional wiki didn’t seem to be sufficient, perhaps because people were hesitant to put significant work into a policy document if their work could just be rolled back or hacked up by others.

So I wondered if it was possible to build a platform that allowed Git-style forking and merging of policy documents. I started referring to hypothetical vapourware that could support this as “Gitocracy”, wrote up a brief proposal, and did some research on existing collaborative authoring software and platforms that could be used or re-used to achieve the goal. Then I got very busy with life stuff and other projects and this one went on the backburner.

My initial vision was strongly shaped by what I’d seen of people developing text documents using GH, I even envisioned a portal website with the working title ‘PolicyHub’. But given the distributed nature of Git and the goal of facilitating mutual cooperation between a diverse range of political actors in Aotearoa, it always made more sense to have a federation of many sites than a centralized “hub”. I know that FedForge is focused on the code forge use case. But I wonder if it could also be used as the protocol layer for federating policy forges?


#2

If a collaboratively edited document is stored in a git repo hosted on a server, that server can be a federated server, sure.

Are you asking about federation of real-time editing events? Like in Etherpad or Gobby, where people write in a UI and their edits are automatically sent to anyone else editing the document. Or are you asking about collaborative writing using git commits?

If you have time, can you please open an issue here and describe how policy forges work, describe some use cases to make it clear what’s special about them compared to other forges?


#3

@fr33domlover:

Are you asking about federation of real-time editing events?

No, I wasn’t. Although integrations with a real-time editor (maybe a CryptPad?) would be cool for ‘policy sprints’ and brainstorms among groups that have enough trust to work on a single document together. If it was possible to federate that, even if that meant all the servers except one were acting as clients of one server, acting as a ‘realtime edit host’, that would be awesome.

what’s special about them compared to other forges?

From a federation protocol POV, maybe nothing. The UI would need to be very different from a code forge, but at the end of day we’re still talking about text files and media objects (eg graphical files of diagrams).

If you have time, can you please open an issue here 1 and describe how policy forges work

Thanks for the invite. For now, I’d like to see what kind of ideas or questions come through the thread. If nobody has anything to add, I’ll write something up.