@amit's notes

Exploring Digital Garden

The concept of digital gardens have always impressed me. I love what people do with such a space. Many use it as a wiki, a pool of thoughts capturing what they learn. A few use it as a scratchpad for their projects. There are many who also use it just like a blog.

I like to think of this as a wiki -- an extension of the same concept around second brain. Digital garden, for me, is a place where thoughts grow, where they move from the original (physical) brain to a digital space. Some are healthy. Others are just great to look at. Some are fully grown. Others are work in progress.

Why? Well, it goes back to my belief that blogs are boring. The list of posts displayed reverse chronologically doesn't help much. I've read many articles on how blogs and their typical homepage have ruined the web. Blogs have made words transient, instead they should be, in Andy Matuschak's words, evergreen. So here's an attempt to build such a system for myself.

This tweet from Maggie Appleton (@Mappletons) lists some of the most wonderful implementations of the digital gardens.

Here's a list of some inspirational examples of digital gardens and their introductions.

  1. Andy's working notes - This is the biggest insipration for my digital garden. "I’m Andy Matuschak. You’ve stumbled upon my working notes. They’re kind of strange, so some context might help. These notes are mostly written for myself: they’re roughly my thinking environment (Evergreen notesMy morning writing practice). But I’m sharing them publicly as an experiment (Work with the garage door up). If a note seems confusing or under-explained, it’s probably because I didn’t write it for you!"
  2. Joel Hook's digital garden - "This is my personal site where I drop notes and articles about things that I am interested in. Generally speaking this journal will capture thoughts I have about building bootstrapped business, raising kids, learning, teaching, and my endless obsession with media and gear. The entries on this page aren't all complete thoughts. It's a space for me to post what I like and I try not to hoard drafts like some sort of digital Smaug. Instead I choose to just let things fly and circle back to them later if I feel like it."
  3. Gwern Brawsen's website - "The goal of these pages is not to be a model of concision, maximizing entertainment value per word, or to preach to a choir by elegantly repeating a conclusion. Rather, I am attempting to explain things to my future self, who is intelligent and interested, but has forgotten. What I am doing is explaining why I decided what I did to myself and noting down everything I found interesting about it for future reference."
  4. Chris Biscardi's website - "My personal site is a digital garden, which is a word that has fairly recently been coined to describe a different standpoint on what a blog is. A Digital Garden is lowercase b blogging. It's writing without worrying about what people will think. It's writing in small, unfinished pieces and building them up to larger more edited pieces, in public. This is in contrast to big B blogging, which can be thought of as writing a 6k+ word thinkpiece or the authoritative work on topic X without shipping any smaller pieces."
  5. Mental Notes by Anne-Laure Le Cunff- "It's less than a blog, more than a tweet. As part of my exploration of digital gardens and inspired by Anna and Kelly Pendergrast, this is a little experiment to visually document interesting things I learn about every week."

I am yet to get inspired from any of these. I will explore them and see how people are using them.

Here are some nice write-ups on the concept that I plan to go through with.

  • My blog is my digital garden - Joel explains what his blog represents, not a collection of posts ordered reverse chronologically. But a carefully curated list of ideas that he builds over time. I like the this idea of a blog. In the traditional form, the best content gets lost. Only way the content is surfaced is through Google. Or other search engines. Can we add a layer of curation around that? For example, I loved how Joel added a link to another article to the end of this one.
  • How the Blog Broke the Web - Amy Hoy remembers the good old days of early web. There were no blogs, no daily "web diaries". All posts were HTML pages, linked together onto a home page with a table of content built and maintained manually. Creating new posts wasn't easy, but it was fun. And because it wasn't easy, it wasn't done so very frequently. Over the years. this changed. In '94, Juntin Hall changed all this -- he started writing his daily diary entries publically, and stitching them together on the homepage with dates. That birthed an idea of making publishing easy, and Movable Type was the first known platform to support that. Soon, people stopped writing web pages and strted writing in the web page. In a form and text areas. Web was accessible for more people, but it became boring since then. A good write-up from Amy, got to know so much about pre-blog web.
  • Of Digital Streams, Campfires and Gardens
  • You and your mind garden
  • Building a Digital Garden
  • Tools and Resources

I will capture what I find in this space and add some more of my own thoughts on this curious concept. A place holder till then. Here are some of the [[best quotes on digital garden]] from more learned minds.

Some quick notes on why, what and how

Why a digital garden?

I have never had a place to note down the early thoughts and let simmer for sometime, build on them over time. I love writing and hence published them at the only place I knew, my blog. My digital garden, this space, provides that space to me, where I can write & publish, still build on early ideas.

Is there a table of content?

There's none. Just click on any link within a note or a backlink at the botton to navigate through the content.

How can I discuss these ideas?

You can email me or browse through my bio to find other ways to connect with me. I liked this construct from Anne-Laure - "Click on the Twitter icon in the sidebar of any note and add your comment. I will be automatically tagged and can get back to you." I would like to build something on these lines.

I want to build a digital garden as well.

I welcome that idea. You can refer to my notes from digital garden setup -- especially this article is a good start. However, no options is easy. So, signup for a good side project.

Links to this note

If this scribble resonated with you in any way, I would love to hear from you. You can email me or browse through my bio to find other ways to connect with me.

Exploring Digital Garden