Why make a mind garden

I was drawn to the idea of the mind garden as a textual representation of topological space, one that is associative rather than chronological or ‘streamed’. To be frank, I had always been terrible at keeping a blog or journal and wanted a way to have both a private and public facing way of sharing information.

The Crow and The Badger

One thing I love about the interest around digital gardening and ways of organizing is the rich metaphor making that has come along with it. The digital becomes the ecological, imagining the ways in which we represent and consume information on the internet as a garden, or a stream, or a campfire. In the spirit of this storytelling as sense making I would like to contribute my own metaphor for why associative mind garden works particularly well for me.

I am not neurotypical. I have ADHD, which is characterized by enthusiastic connection making at the cost of being methodical. I tend to think laterally rather than linearly, making sudden insights and connections which frankly can lead to some confusing conversations.

For a long time I fought against the natural tides of my brain. I wanted to be like the badger: methodical, digging in one direction at a time with the stamina and fortitude to see it through completion. But my brain is more like a crow: working in quick bursts, attracted to new shiny objects and flitting from project to project in a piecemeal fashion.

Being able to write in a way that more naturally fits how my brain wants to, in short bursts and associative accumulations has felt a lot more comfortable than trying to fit my brain into a more linear model of writing. While I have always failed at the blog or the journal, mostly due to being almost immediately sidetracked by a sometimes overwhelming amount of lateral thoughts and connections, using TiddlyRoam has helped keep track of my thoughts in a way that fits intuitively. I write now in short bursts, and am able to keep track of all my side paths and wandering interests while still maintaining a somewhat routine writing practice.

Prioritizing Process over Completion

In making a public facing digital garden I am also trying to overcome something that I’m sure I’m not the only one to struggle with: Perfectionism and the anxiety of publishing a “finished” piece. Blogs and more traditional essay writing generally has the content written privately before publishing. As someone who struggles with perfectionism and anxiety over putting my work out there, as well as difficulty in “completing” works to my satisfaction I am hoping by iteratively tending to my personal digital garden I can help alleviate these feelings and be able to express myself in a way that feels good. Even now as I write this I find myself worrying about the quality of my writing, if it’s even worth putting on my site, if my metaphor even made sense! I have always wanted to share my ideas and thoughts and also never quite was able to find a way that worked for me, but the digital garden has so far been proving to have the least friction.

Learning as a Public Process

Communal learning and ways of organizing information is something I’m really interested in. I’ve loved wandering through other peoples gardens, seeing how ideas solidify and form and how other people associate ideas. I am a big fan of the idea of digital commons and cultivating spaces that allow for learning without the anxiety inducing deluge twitter and other platforms can be. I want to contribute with my own growth and learning, and learn from others as well. What would a community garden look like?

Some of the links that sent me down this particular wormhole include:

Of Digital Streams, Campfires and Gardens

How the Blog Broke the Web

You and your mind garden

A Brief History & Ethos of the Digital Garden

Tending the Roam Garden