Writing July 24th, 2020

Digital gardens

Something that I recently came across is the concept of a digital garden. It's not a new concept, although this terminology for it seems to be gaining some traction this year.

In basic terms, it is a different format for written content on the web. It's about moving away from blog posts ordered by dates and categories, into more of an interlinked web of notes.

One of the main ingredients is bi-directional links between those notes, creating a network of notes, similar to Wikipedia. A common way of doing that is linking using a link syntax that looks similar to what Wikipedia uses: [[Digital gardens]] would be how you'd link from another post to the one you're reading right now.

Some really impressive examples of digital gardens:

  • Gwern.net - high quality long-form research and articles, with tons of links to related pages on the site, to Wikipedia, and to many other resources. Take this article about Modafinil as an example.
  • Gordon Brander - a library of design thinking patterns.
  • Maggie Appleton - notes and resources about web development and antropology.

Maggie also maintains a 🌱 GitHub repo with a list of 'digital gardeners' and tools you can use to create your own digital garden.

Private gardens

This idea of maintaining a repository of interlinked notes goes beyond just publishing them to the web. There are also many tools to maintain a 'private garden' of notes, sometimes referred to as a 'second brain' or 'zettelkasten':

  • Roam is a web-based tool to maintain a personal set of interlinked and daily notes.
  • Obsidian is similar, but in the form of a desktop app that has some cool features, including a visual representation of your network of notes.

Obsidian app

Some additional resources: