I had this crazy idea the other day: what if every single blog post I write, and moreover every single blog post on the web, was something you could just fork/copy/duplicate with the click of a button?
I absolutely love that when I’m on a github repo that’s great, if I want to keep a copy of it, modify, etc, I can just click a single button and fork the repo. Think about this: virtually every repo on github has the chance to survive permanently, not just because the original author keeps their github account and repo open, but because the repo can be duplicated dozens, hundreds, thousands of times, for free, nearly immediately.
Then I realized that one of the greatest things about me writing the “You Don’t Know JS” book series up on github is that my book content is in the same boat. Over 400 times that repo has been forked, which means most or all of that content is virtually guaranteed to survive practically forever (at least as long as github survives).
That’s pretty cool.
So why can’t we do this with the blog posts we write? What if you show up at a blog post, and right next to that deprecated RSS feed icon, there was a “Duplicate This Post” icon?
Have you ever been disappointed to go back years later to a blog post that you loved and bookmarked, and found it was gone/dead? That sucks. Right?
Of course, if I write my blog posts as gists or repos, the github API would make this easy to let you pick the option to fork my blog post on github/gist.github.
But another simple option would be to let someone to “duplicate” the post as a PDF they download (or upload to their dropbox/etc).
Of course, if the post is authored in simple markdown format (which I’m striving towards), I could easily also let you duplicate the source (or rendered markup with inline CSS) of the post into any of dozens of other sites, like jsbin/pastebin/medium/etc.
I can easily build something like this for myself, but I don’t think it’ll matter much unless this becomes a thing across a lot of the web, that whenever any of us reads something we think is great and worthy of saving, instead of just bookmarking the URL, we can just click a button and BAM! Now we have that content itself duplicated and persisted for all of posterity and eternity.
So… what do you think? Can we rally behind this idea? Can we make “fork this” work for every piece of useful content on the web? Help me spread the word. Let’s build this together!