I rediscovered “digital gardening” earlier today through a site on the XXIIVV webring–cultivating a sort of wiki for yourself, your notes, links, and whatnot. I’ve been seeing some really elaborate ones, and I’ve been thinking about it as I’ve been writing this on a somewhat-lazy December afternoon.
I tend to find something that’s been holding me back from really fleshing out my website with what I’ve dubbed Interest pages or posting a whole ton on my blog has been trying to fit things into a rigid structure, or feeling anxious over a blank page. Thoughts like:
- “Am I phrasing this right?”
- “Do I really know enough about this?”
- “Do I have enough to say?”, and
- “Is this enough to justify an RSS feed ping or a changelog update?”
rush all throughout my head whenever I think about writing a self-dubbed Interests page–a section that, I thought, would solve this problem–or a blog post. In the case of a blog post, a lot of a time I coax myself into feeling “This is a blog post so I won’t ever be able to update it again, so it’d better be good and readable on its own or have a genuine point to make!” and then eventually never do it.
By contrast, from what I’ve read, a digital garden’s focus appears to be not only what you come out with in the end, but the process itself of learning and doing–collecting notes, building, growing things up organically.
The phrase “digital garden” is a metaphor for thinking about writing and creating that focuses less on the resulting “showpiece” and more on the process, care, and craft it takes to get there. While not everybody has or works in a dirt garden, we all share a familiarity with the idea of what a garden is. A garden is usually a place where things grow.🌱 My blog is a digital garden, not a blog (joelhooks.com)
On occasion I come across something I think is neat, say a history of ASCII art, and I want to have some record of it but I don’t want to cluttering up my site’s navigation of copious amounts of pages or write a blog post about a subject I don’t really have authority or much knowledge on. Perhaps I want to keep lists of other interesting things and links I come across over time but don’t want to let making or updating them become a burden.
And as I speak, ideas are brewing in my head. I could use it for like, code snippets, even, little notes about AutoSite features while I work on them, whatever browser extensions I use, programs I use, hoo. And possibly thoughts on the little productivity things and tools I’ve been trying to apply to my workflow, like using a pomodoro timer and tools like Todoist and TickTick. This much content in the form of small notes would feel cluttering, maybe even spammy (several unupdated blog posts stamped in time) in other formats.
This is a really drawn out ramble, but essentially I feel like I’d be able to compile together a whole ton of assorted stuff over time if I could just go off on all sorts of topics that jump in my head without worrying about word count, polish, whether it’s “finished” or even if people are gonna look. And possibly that in its own is an essence of mumblecore.
I think a blog or microblog is like a stream, a standard structured website is like a hierarchial tree with usually one or two sublevels, and a digital garden in this fashion is like a sprawling web, living, breathing, organic. Something poetic like that.
So, yeah. Maybe I’ll give growing a digital garden a try sometime. Thinking about it.
Dropping some links on the subject so I can clear all these tabs..
- Hypertext Gardens (eastgate.com) <– circa 1998! The first formal example of a “garden” in this fashion.
- Links: Digital gardening | garden.tymon-zaniewski.xyz (tymon-zaniewski.xyz)
- Tom Critchlow. Move. Think. Create.
- Introduction – Everything I know (nikitavoloboev.xyz)
- MaggieAppleton/digital-gardeners: Resources, links, projects, and ideas for gardeners tending their digital notes on the public interwebs (github.com)
- TiddlyWiki — a non-linear personal web notebook
- How to set up your own digital garden – Ness Labs
- Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet | MIT Technology Review
- A gardening guide for your mind • Mental Nodes
- How to build a digital garden with TiddlyWiki – Ness Labs
- commonplace book – IndieWeb