So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

10 December, 2012

V is for Version Control

One of my stock rants about other reconstructionists has to do with footnotes.  Basically: there's a lot of stuff out there, but not a lot of stuff that says "And I got this from this book, this teacher, or this document; this part of it I made up as a bridge based on this related culture, this modern practice, or this looking really shiny."

And in this subculture which talks about resources and references and historical accuracy, there's also a lot of games of telephone, in which someone's offhand comment gets blown into canon, or a personal practice gets taken for ancient procedure, or some other thing gets reinterpreted into unrecognisability by the time it gossip-chains its way around to its original source.

And this means that the corpus of standard procedures tee-em gets turned into a hash - a process which is not helped by the tendency of some recon-types to treat academic research as if it were the Bible in the hands of a particularly pernicious young-Earth creationist.  There's research of various degrees of datedness mixed in with the bridging material someone created for a coven, someone else's interpolations from African Diaspora Religions, a stray leavening of the Golden Dawn, the thing that that priest said once which was certainly an ancient source somewhere right?  It's a mess.

It has no version control.

One of the things that I try to do with my work is footnote.  (I actually, at one point, got an email from my boss when he was putting together the ebook version of my book, saying I owed him a bottle of something because formatting footnotes in an ebook is apparently a real pain in the arse.)  It's not enough for me to come up with answers to things - I want other people to be able to know where I got them.  To be able to check my work, come up with alternate interpretations, or go further without having to first reconstruct my footsteps in order to figure out how I got where I was.  Can't do that without having the work in context.

I have a calendar; it's in its first revision.  I explicitly note that, because version control means that at some point I will supercede it with something that I like better, whether that's for completeness or for accuracy or for fiddly bits of math or whatever else.

I'm a syncretist; I work within multiple religious traditions and construct bridging material so that they do the same thing.  And that's multiple layers of versioning - tracking where things came from, revising things for better fit and coherence in the long run, and so on.

The structure around the system, the stuff that reveals where the system came from, it matters too.

No version control means that thing we did a half-assed job on that one time gets done over and over again even when we have better resources because we've forgotten that that was a hack job.  It's just The Way We Did It, so it might be the traditional thing to do... right?

1 comment:

MP said...

Thanks for the reminder. I'm trying to adapt something that isn't taught in most paths of British Traditional Wicca, for use in such a path.
As it isn't core for us, as I go through my research, I'm noting where I got what info, and how I tested it, if I did, and what my results were ... the science side of magic.
I'm hoping that it will become part of a standard "tool kit" available to students, and eventually initiates (some of the stuff I'm looking into is used in a BTW line, but only by initiates, I'm told), but some of that hope is pride/hubris.
But, if it works, it's worth it.