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Paper Rainbow Birds

Having worked on a number of software projects and tracking my work using git, I'm often curious about its application in other fields of writing. My first thought always goes to its application in the legal domain, because legislative documents are as large and complex as significantly sized software projects. From a purely functional perspective, I imagine it would be very useful to see what changes were made when and by whom. Imagine git blameing a bill and seeing exactly which politicians added what language. Wouldn't that help make a truly transparent system of governance?

But git offers much more than the ability to track changes. The history it produces is rich and educational, giving those who come after a small peek into the methods used by their predecessors to devise and implement these artifacts. To that extent, git can be a great teaching tool. Wouldn't we love to see how Tolkien assembled Middle Earth, or in what sequence and iteration Shakespeare his great works?

Finally, I'm sure there are ways in which the git history itself can be used as a medium, producing art in itself. I'm not sure how this can be done just yet, but there very well may be others who have already done it. I'm reminded of the Star Wars traceroute.

The git history of this small work is unremarkable and unenlightening, especially since I didn't start until I had a complete initial draft. I usually write on paper first, and so it is difficult to record the sequence of writing in git. Furthermore, when I am writing on a computer, I'm usually too engrossed to bother committing. However, I am curious about discovering patterns about my own writing by studying its evolution, so I start with this.

The final poem can be read on my blog, but can also be read at the latest commit in this repository. A spoken version can be listened to at

This repository contains two branches. 9797 is from an earlier attempt in which I tried to constrain stanzas to having nine syllables in the first and third lines, and seven in the second and fourth. Eventually I found that this arrangement wasn't working, so decided to remove this constraint and write in a manner that was more natural and free-flowing, in accordance with my usual style. That work was on the natural branch, which was eventually merged into master.

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