Credit Rolls for Software

Software should have credit rolls the way films do.

At the end of every film, there are the credit rolls that acknowledge the work of everyone who was involved in the making of the film:

Star Wars Episode IV Credit Roll

Why not the same for software? In the case of films, all sorts of people get credit for their contributions but in most software and software services, we don’t know the contributors and usually we can’t even find out. I use tons of online services but I have no idea who the true contributors really are. At most, if the service is very popular, I might know the name of the founders (Larry/Sergey, Jerry/David, Adam D’Angelo, …).

This opacity is a huge shame because people who write software should rightfully be recognized for their work.

It is even technically possible to produce a credit roll for the software that we use. Here is a version control log (svn -blame) of who the latest contributor for each line of code for a Polyvore js function:

  8358      kwyee // Monitor calls f every interval ms.  
  8358      kwyee // It fires a change event when f() changes.
  8482      kwyee // f() is passed to the trigger event handler.
  2073      pasha function Monitor(f, interval) {
  2623      pasha     var curr = f();
  2073      pasha     if (!interval) { interval = 100; }
  8656      kwyee     this.check = function() {
  2073      pasha         var now = f();
  2073      pasha         if (now != curr) {
  2073      pasha             curr = now;
  2073      pasha             Event.trigger(this, 'change', curr);
  2073      pasha         }
  8656      kwyee         return now;
  8656      kwyee     };
 17189      pasha     this.timer = new Interval(interval, this.check, this);
  2073      pasha }

It is possible to take this information and instrument the code such that each execution keeps track of all the people who contributed and produce an exhaustive credit roll of sorts. There could be a dialog that shows all the people whose code was executed to make this app / page / REST call etc… possible. I actually remember that old System 7 era Apple software used to have credits in the ‘About X…’ dialogs.



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