smol projects

on digital gardens

02.07.2023 2 min read

In recent months I’ve noticed a lot of discussion around the idea of “digital gardens” - a way to collect, interweave, and present your thoughts / ideas. They are supposedly different from blogs, in that blogs are “performative”, while a digital garden is meant to be tended, an ever-ongoing WIP: learning in public, its proponents say. While I like the idea, I think there are several assumptions being made that I don’t necessarily agree with:

  • Blogs are “performative” and polished.

This really doesn’t need to be the case. Does the distinction between a blog and a digital garden rest on the fact that one is polished and performative, and the other is not? If one treats a blog in a casual manner, does it magically sprout into a digital garden? Conversely, if a digital garden is polished, does it become a blog?

  • Chronologically-sorted content is bad

Chronologically-sorted content is… a sorting method. But many blogs don’t adhere to chronologically-sorted content as the only means of navigation. We have navbars, footers, categorized hashtags - you can come and go as you please. (go read about #selfhosted now, if you want)

  • Linking ideas is always possible and desired

I don’t have much to say on this. Backlinks are nice - if your interests nicely align with one another. If you have eclectic interests, this probably isn’t super likely.

So while I like the concept of a digital garden… I’m not sure its such a useful distinction. Why not just say “I hate old-fashioned blogs”? (sidebar: some of it feels cultish, or a way for companies to sell you a service that “DEFINITELY ISN’T A BLOG”). Anyway… that’s all I really had to say.

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