These ideas sometimes seem at odds. A garden suggests curation, but brains aren’t curated (at least, mine isn’t!). But by building this space as both a digital garden and a second brain, I am (hopefully) reducing overhead and eliminating some of the difficulty of adoption. The end result treats meta-notes like these (and evergreen notes) the same way it treats random thoughts about worlds I’d like to build. That kind of makes sense—it’s a lot more like how my brain works, I guess.
And maybe the garden part of all this has less to do with how I curate this content and more to do with how I make it and share it:
digital gardening is not about specific tools – it's not a Wordpress plugin, Gastby theme, or Jekyll template. It's a different way of thinking about our online behaviour around information – one that accumulates personal knowledge over time in an explorable space. Maggie Appleton’s history and contextualization of digital gardens
It’s about behavior: by writing my unpolished thoughts here for my own benefit and connecting them using the magic of hyperlinks, I fall into a pattern that creates a space primed for wandering and exploration.
Really, this is is more like an unstructured notebook. It's a place for me to put stuff I don’t want to forget: I tend to have a difficult time holding on to big concepts, and I find myself rediscovering them often. Maybe If I write them down, I'll spend less time spinning my wheels. It is somewhere between a digital garden and a second brain.
Each entry in the garden is marked with a status. I've adopted this concept from Maggie Appleton's digital garden, where Maggie tags entries with Seedling, Budding, and Evergreen.
I'd like to talk about my love of visiting state parks and playing what I'm calling “garden games”. These are games that are designed to reward exploration; the core game loop is a cycle of exploration and discovery in a carefully constructed environment. (If there's already another term for these games, please let me know! They're some of my favorites, and I'd love to find a way to search for them more easily.) For now, I'm taking the word “garden” after reading the below part of a review of my favorite game, Eastshade.
“Each painting costs inspiration, which you collect by visiting new areas or completing new tasks...Games being pretty isn’t unusual, but Eastshade’s design is closer to that of a grand garden. The buildings feel more like follies than functional houses, the bridges come straight from arcadian paintings, and curated lines of sight are key.” PCGamer (emphasis mine)
That review is describing Eastshade's environment design, and indeed in playing the game it seems every frame could be a carefully composed painting, but I think the depiction of Eastshade as a “grand garden” extends to the broader scope of its game design as well.
What's a garden?
A garden is a curated environment designed for the enjoyment of nature. According to the concept's Wikipedia entry, the defining feature of a garden is its curation; if a space hasn't been controlled and curated by a human, it isn't a garden. To extend the definition to games, I replace nature with the game world.
For gardens, the carefully curated experience centers the environment itself, not another end goal.
A rambling discussion of online communities, from Facebook and Discord to an ideal of the entire web as a community and the Fediverse as our burgeoning compromise
Companies like Facebook and Discord, who provide very centralized, siloed community-building services, might claim “decentralized community” is an oxymoron. They'd argue that centralization is necessary for a community, that the very definition of a community is a single place where people come together to share ideas and keep in touch.
Indeed, both websites have a rules page about their respective “communities”. (Facebook's here and Discord's here. Facebook proclaims on the first line: “Every day, people come to Facebook to share their stories, see the world through the eyes of others, and connect with friends and causes,” and this frames Facebook as a massive community (containing many smaller ones, also locked to the platform).