I happened upon this Twitter thread from Maggie Appleton about “digital gardens, personal wikis, and experimental knowledge systems” the other day, and I’ve been reading through some of the linked materials. Here are a few favorites:
- “The Garden and the Stream: A Technopastoral” and “Superpowers Take Time” by Mike Caulfield
- “My blog is a digital garden, not a blog” by Joel Hooks
- “Of Digital Streams, Campfires and Gardens” and “Building a digital garden” by Tom Critchlow
These ideas are really resonating with me at the moment. I think I’ve done a good job at limiting my “stream” exposure to healthy levels—no Facebook, much less Twitter—but I don’t have anything resembling a “garden” right now. After reading the above pieces and a few others, I feel like I could use one. I don’t know that I’ll put a wiki up on my website, as some people in Appleton’s thread have done, but I’m considering an offline one.
Here’s a passage from the first Caulfield post linked above:
I’ve been working with Ward Cunningham, the guy who invented the original wiki back in 1995, on the educational use of this new personal wiki technology for a year and a half now, and I’ve been keeping this personal wiki, which is a collection of both my own stuff and stuff I’ve copied from other websites for over a year now.
I have close to 1,000 articles in my personal wiki at this point. I have maybe 1,000 more scattered on other sites. They are from myself and others, most simple summaries of ideas I encounter, or data, or examples of ideas. Some are the result of afternoon-long rainy Saturday coffee shop investigations, but most are like what I have just showed you here, simple knowledge that builds complexity through linking.
And when you get to that point, where you’ve mapped out 1000s of articles of your own knowledge you start to see impacts on your thought that are very hard to describe.
Over time these things you write up start to form a deep network that helps you think.
(I recommend reading that post in its entirety for the context, along with examples of how Caulfield uses his personal wiki.)
I haven’t decided yet how I’m going to do this. I’ve had VoodooPad for years, though it seems like it’s since been purchased by another company and the reviews for the iOS version don’t inspire confidence. I could fall back to using Scrivener, whose quirks I’ve grown accustomed to from years of NaNoWriMo projects, though I imagine it would be somewhat unwieldy for managing a wiki. But I’m going to start a garden, somehow or another.