Digital Gardens

Digital Gardens

My goal is: "I want to produce novel, powerful ideas." A computer-supported thinking system is helpful insofar as it supports that. But it's hard to evaluate those systems empirically because such ideas are rare. People who blog about note-taking systems don't produce them. Andy Matuschak @andy_matuschak on Twitter

A digital garden is a public notebook you can use to grow your ideas from a seed to a full grown essay.

What Is A Digital Garden?

The term “digital garden” is not well-defined. In general, it is a collection of thoughts, unfinished projects, links, and much more. However, it can be different and wholly unique to the individual. I would like to broaden the term to enclose any sort of website that allows you to truly browse without viewing posts chronologically. Digital gardens, collections, spaces — call it what you want. On Digital Gardens, Blogs, Personal Spaces, and the Future

Maggie Appleton describes her digital garden as an "An open collection of notes, resources, sketches, and explorations I'm currently cultivating. Some notes are Seedlings, some are budding, and some are fully grown Evergreen."

In Evergreen Notes, Andy Matuschak writes: "Evergreen notes are written and organized to evolve, contribute, and accumulate over time, across projects." In that note he suggests a process based on the Zettelkasten method.

The Zettelkasten Method

Zettelkasten is a formal method of note taking for research. Many of those strategies are applicable to digital gardening. The following are some principles and advice, collected from Zettelkasten.de, which is a recommended read.

The Zettelkasten method, originated by social scientist Niklas Luhmann promises these benefits:

1. We can improve the connectivity of our thoughts.

2. We can be more productive.
3. We stop wasting our efforts.
4. We can tackle more complex problems.
5. Normal note-taking will create a bloated mess over time. 
6. The Zettelkasten Method will make your writing easier, more coherent, smoother and more convincing. 

See: Intorduction to Zettelkasten

There are two important principles to keep in mind, that will help a digital garden grow. First, the principle of Atomicity. Create one note for one topic, put everything related to that topic and nothing else in that note. Each note should be atomic.

The second principle is the Principle of Connectivity -- create and highlight links between notes. Your notes should be linked.

The digital garden builder allows you to create notes and visualize the connections between them. You can use "wiki-style" double bracket links to link between notes.