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View Diary: Wanted: Legislative Version Control (22 comments)

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  •  technical issues in perspective (2+ / 0-)
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    dirge, other72384

    Good points, Dirge.  The tech issues you mention in 1 and 2 are real, but as you point out, also surmountable.  In fact, I don't think they'd be that difficult.  Specifically:

    I agree that one couldn't use cvs or subversion in a default configuration.  Imagine starting with either of those (open-source) programs, and giving a team of a dozen programmers one week to add a few of the bells and whistles you mention (e.g., ability to read Word/Wordperfect, concepts like "section" and "clause", etc.)  I think this is eminently feasible.. in many cases the code is already out there.  (For example, I think both Open Office and Google Docs can import Word docs.)

    While you're right that this is more than you or I could do in an afternoon, a programming effort on that scale isn't even large enough to qualify as "small potatoes" by government standards (or for the open-source community).

    Regarding 3, you're right that without decent procedures, things could become a minor disaster.  But things are already a major disaster... earmarks get inserted into bills, and (allegedly) nobody knows by whom.  The legislature passes bills that nobody has read.  A version control system with poor compliance would probably lead to a mess, it might still be a huge improvement.

    I agree completely that one should look to the open-source community.  I think you're also correct that a Legislation-Wiki would get us most of the way there.  My concern is that Wiki's have a (completely undeserved, IMHO) reputation for producing innacurate results, which is why I avoided that metaphor.  (But on the other hand, Wikis have much better name recognition than version control.)

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