Digital gardens are places where information grows. It is a collection of notes and ideas that are organized in a way that allows for exploration and discovery. It is meant to be a living, growing repository of knowledge and ideas, rather than a static document.
A digital garden presents a few challenges.
#Chronological is the wrong metaphor, but how to capture time and sequence?. A digital garden can contain a large amount of information, and it can be difficult to decide how to organize and structure it in a way that is intuitive and easy for others to navigate.
Finding the right tools: There are many different tools and platforms that can be used to create a digital garden, and it can be challenging to find the one that best fits your needs and workflow.
Keeping the garden up to date: A digital garden is meant to be a living, growing repository of knowledge and ideas, which means that it requires ongoing maintenance and updates. It can be time-consuming to keep the garden up to date and to ensure that the information it contains is accurate and current.
Balancing depth and breadth: A digital garden can contain a wide range of topics and ideas, and it can be challenging to find the right balance between providing enough detail to be useful and not overwhelming the reader with too much information.
Promoting and sharing the garden: A digital garden is only valuable if it is used and appreciated by others. It can be challenging to promote and share a digital garden and to get others to engage with and contribute to it.
Chronological is the wrong metaphor, but how to capture time and sequence?
In a digital garden, the organization of information is not necessarily tied to a specific timeline or sequence. Instead, the focus is on creating connections and relationships between ideas, rather than presenting them in a linear fashion.
One way to capture the sense of time and sequence in a digital garden is to use tags or labels to indicate when a particular note or idea was created or updated. This allows for some level of temporal organization, while still allowing for flexibility and the ability to create connections between ideas that may not necessarily be related to a specific point in time.
Another option is to use a visual representation of time, such as a timeline or a calendar, to show the evolution of ideas or concepts over a specific period of time. This can help to give context and provide a sense of progression, while still allowing for the non-linear organization of information that is characteristic of a digital garden.
As an example, have a Git commit hash as well as a recent changes history. Each page already display a commit hash to give it a context as well as a recently updated section in the index.
However, using commit hashes to capture the sequence of events might not be the most intuitive or user-friendly approach. Git commit hashes are typically long strings of letters and numbers, and they are not necessarily easy for people to remember or understand.
The RSS1 also provides a temporal source of truth.
Digital gardens nurture the creation of complex networks from simple concept associations. Quoting Tim Berners-Lee’s2 “Weaving the Web”3 (2000):
One of the beautiful things about physics is its ongoing quest to find simple rules that describe the behavior of very small, simple objects. Once found, these rules can often be scaled up to describe the behavior of monumental systems in the real world. […]
If the rules governing hypertext links between servers and browsers stayed simple, then our web of a few documents could grow to a global web. The art was to define the few basic, common rules of “protocol” that would allow one computer to talk to another, in such a way that when all computers everywhere did it, the system would thrive, not break down.
Fischetti, Mark., Berners-Lee, Tim., Fischetti, Mark., Berners-Lee, Tim. Weaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web by Its Inventor. N.p.: Paw Prints, 2008. ↩︎