Thursday, June 27, 2024

README and more

TL;DR -- README! Such a minor thing. It's age old. We don't seem to know where it started. But, it relates to the world of code. It's nice that GitHub, old ways being new with the internet and worldwideweb. In any case, now AI has put its wannabe head into code from various positions. We have payed sporadic attention and thought that it deserves a more regular focus. 


We have mentioned GitHub (Wikipedia overview) several times since around the 2020 timeframe. Our latest post was motivated by an email feed from the GitHub team that related to an article on those who maintain code. That role was always seen as less important than the "cowboy" roles of the developer. 

Stopping a minute. GittHub is an on-line example of what can be termed code management. This type of facility/utility evolved over the years until it's a fairly robust addition to good business practices. Some have used CMS for this type of work. However, we have had lots of posts about Content Mangement and will continue. AI modes will require extra efforts at curating. So, stay tuned.  

Now, back to the "cowboy" (apologies to the real type). Guess what? Lots of developers put stuff out and strutted off the stage like the stud. Oh, btw, this is an old guy writing who has seen this stuff for decades. And, after strutting off, the stud left the errant traces of his work for other to clean up after. Much like the mother after her kids. 

Mixed metaphors, I know. But continuing. I'm working with a project that will try to incorporate AI modes (we'll be more specific later) into a new system which is supposed to revolutionize the economy, as a whole. Large piece of pie to bite from. Anyway, I will still blog though I'll be going to other blogs and linking from those back to here. 

Another bit of interest? GitHub and OpenAI have been working for awhile on a Copilot which is supposed to aid in developmenr or general code management. This joint work started in 2021 which was a year before the general release of ChatGPT. BTW, if you are wondering what this is about, see a brief history of GPT. The author writes about research on AI (mainly machine learning). 

Again, back to the subject. Today's mail pointed to this discussion: How are AI coding tools changing the way developers work? This is from the maintainers group referenced above. In reading the text of the discussion, there were some things that stood out. One was this: AI might not write a book, but it can write a good paragraph. 

Before proceeding, though, a couple of words. Yes, one can drive a small nail with a sledge hammer. But, it's a mismatch of need and what's being used to fulfill the need. Too, AI (GenAI, in particular) is hugely chewing up resources. For what? They need large data centers that requires an unwarranted amount of energy. Too, they need water for cooling. And, more. They're noisy. They make the landscape other than desirable. Go look at those that surround the lovely Virginia countryside of Dulles (IAD). 

So, reading the article was interesting. I went to look at their site and saw that this group started to publish in April of 2023. That would have been when the reality of ChatGPT and its kin was sinking in which was a mere five months after the release. As a reminder, OpenAI went viral and got millions of people to sign up for the free ttrial. Too, lots of folks bought in, including companies. 

All of that will eventually be analyzed. I started last year in another context: Knowledge Systems Center, Sperry Univac. As mentioned in the last post, I have been off helping to support a project as it gets off the ground. So, there are pending tasks that will be picked up again. 

Now, the effort at GitHub is called The ReadME Project. Coders have used a README forever, it seems. Software usually had this text file that included some documentation, or information about using the software, and more. So, does Wikipeda say anything about the README? Yes

Now back to the GitHub project. Here is a little bit of the notices sent since they started. AI itself has only come into focus the past few of these. 
  • 06/26/2024 - AI is here. How is it changing the way developers work?
  • 05/23/2024 - Maintainer Month: The joy of open source
  • 04/17/2024 - Getting started in a career in platform engineering
  • 03/12/2024 - Intelligent uses for AI in coding
  • 02/13/2024 - Best practices for open source maintainers
  • 01/09/2024 - Creating technical content
  • ...
  • 08/01/2023 - Getting started with edge computing | The ReadME Project Q&A
  • 07/13/2023 - How to make your first open source contribution
  • 07/10/2023 - How to handle programming paradigm shifts | The ReadME Project Q&A
  • ...
  • 06/13/2023 - Non-code contributors: The unsung heroes of open source
  • 05/25/2023 - Elevating contributors into maintainership | The ReadME Project Q&A
  • 05/09/2023 - Is it still "open source" if you don't accept contributions?
For an old timer, seeing all of this progress is a pleasure. There are several caveats which come from doing this for years including stints in the plush offices dealing with management and its science (if there is such). Evidence of this is becoming apparent to me. People, the key resource, are being driven to distraction and worse being slaves of automation. Oh, I would write more and will. Not just now. 

This year, I saw USDOD mention that people and their intuition ought to be the focus, not the computational twin that is a wannabe, many times over. All of this may seem new. It's not and has been going on for a long while. What's new? We can't hide the realities so much under proprietary cloaks when the evidence are huge monoliths traipsing along our skyline and blocking our rightful views ;>). 

Remarks: Modified: 06/27/2024

06/27/2024 --

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