Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Information Sharing And Collaboration In Government With The 18F Jekyll Hub Template

I’m a big fan of Jekyll based sites. All of the API Evangelist network runs as over 100+ little Jekyll sites, within Github repositories, via Github Pages. This is more than just website technology for me, this is my workspace. When you come across a half finished listing of contacts, or building blocks for a particular industry, or possibly a story that isn't fully edited—this is all because you are wandering through my API industry workshop. (pardon the dust)

Over the holidays, my girlfriend Audrey Watters (@audreywatters) has completed her migration of Hack Education and her personal blog Audrey Watters, to a Jekyll based mode of operation. Read her own thoughts about the new found freedom Jekyll is giving her over her content, data, workflow and the publishing of her projects—she is pretty excited.

Like APIs, a Jekyll approach to projects is way more than the technology. It is hard to articulate to folks the freedom, collaboration, flexibility, and transparency it has the potential to  introduce. It is something you have to experience, and see in action before you can fully understand, but I also have to ackknowledge that the transparency introduced by this way of working will not be for everyone.

I originally learned what I know about Jekyll from watching leaders in the federal government space, most specifically Development Seed, and round one Presidential Innovation Fellow, and now full-time Githubber Ben Balter (@BenBalter). Continuing this trend, it makes me happy to see 18F, out of the GSA, providing the 18F Hub, “a Jekyll-based documentation platform that aims to help development teams organize and easily share their information, and to enable easy exploration of the connections between team members, projects, and skill sets.” The 18F Hub is similar to the Developer Hub templates that 18F published, but I think holds a lot of potential in helping on-board a non-developer audience to the concepts of Jekyll,and  Github—hopefully making the social coding platform a little less intimating.

I do not think Jekyll and Github is for everyone. I’m not in the business of evangelizing one platform to rule them all, but I do think Jekyll itself, whether you run on Github, Amazon S3, Dropbox, or your own hosting or internal network environment, is a powerful tool for any project. I’m eager to keep an eye on what agencies put the 18F Jekyll templates to use, because it will signal for me that there are other healthy things going on at the agencies that do.



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