- Aug 2022
I like to think of thoughts as streaming information, so I don’t need to tag and categorize them as we do with batched data. Instead, using time as an index and sticky notes to mark slices of info solves most of my use cases. Graph notebooks like Obsidian think of information as batched data. So you have a set of notes (samples) that you try to aggregate, categorize, and connect. Sure there’s a use case for that: I can’t imagine a company wiki presented as streaming info! But I don’t think it aids me in how I usually think. When thinking with pen and paper, I prefer managing streamed information first, then converting it into batched information later— a blog post, documentation, etc.
There's an interesting dichotomy between streaming information and batched data here, but it isn't well delineated and doesn't add much to the discussion as a result. Perhaps distilling it down may help? There's a kernel of something useful here, but it isn't immediately apparent.
Relation to stock and flow or the idea of the garden and the stream?
- Jul 2022
- Jun 2022
Local file Local file
Third, sharing our ideas with others introduces a major element ofserendipity
There is lots of serendipity here, particularly when people are willing to either share their knowledge or feel compelled to share it as part of an imagined life "competition" or even low forms of mansplaining, though this last tends to be called this when the ultimate idea isn't serendipitous but potentially so commonly known that there is no insight in the information.
This sort of "public serendipity" or "group serendipity" is nice because it means that much of the work of discovery and connecting ideas is done by others against your own work rather that you sorting/searching through your own more limited realm of work to potentially create it.
Group focused combinatorial creativity can be dramatically more powerful than that done on one's own. This can be part of the major value behind public digital gardens, zettelkasten, etc.
Third, sharing our ideas with others introduces a major element ofserendipity. When you present an idea to another person, theirreaction is inherently unpredictable. They will often be completelyuninterested in an aspect you think is utterly fascinating; they aren’tnecessarily right or wrong, but you can use that information eitherway. The reverse can also happen. You might think something isobvious, while they find it mind-blowing. That is also usefulinformation. Others might point out aspects of an idea you neverconsidered, suggest looking at sources you never knew existed, orcontribute their own ideas to make it better. All these forms offeedback are ways of drawing on not only your first and SecondBrains, but the brains of others as well.
I like that he touches on one of the important parts of the gardens and streams portion of online digital gardens here, though he doesn't tacitly frame it this way.
The summary of Hoy’s post makes a point similar to Caulfield’s piece, but more pronounced: the wide-spread adoption of the blog format killed gardens. The dichotomy is the same; here, we also have a causality of demise.
The blog killed online gardens in some sense because of it's time-ordered stream of content. While it was generally a slower moving stream than that of social media platforms like Twitter which came later, it was still a stream.
Some of the basic outline of this looks like OER (Open Educational Resources) and its "five Rs": Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix and/or Redistribute content. (To which I've already suggested the sixth: Request update (or revision control).
Some of this is similar to:
The Read Write Web is no longer sufficient. I want the Read Fork Write Merge Web. #osb11 lunch table. #diso #indieweb [Tantek Çelik](http://tantek.com/2011/174/t1/read-fork-write-merge-web-osb110
Idea of collections of learning as collections or "playlists" or "readlists". Similar to the old tool Readlist which bundled articles into books relatively easily. See also: https://boffosocko.com/2022/03/26/indieweb-readlists-tools-and-brainstorming/
Use of Wiki version histories
Some of this has the form of a Wiki but with smaller nuggets of information (sort of like Tiddlywiki perhaps, which also allows for creating custom orderings of things which had specific URLs for displaying and sharing them.) The Zettelkasten idea has some of this embedded into it. Shared zettelkasten could be an interesting thing.
Data is the new soil. A way to reframe "data is the new oil" but as a part of the commons. This fits well into the gardens and streams metaphor.
Jerry, have you seen Matt Ridley's work on Ideas Have Sex? https://www.ted.com/talks/matt_ridley_when_ideas_have_sex Of course you have: https://app.thebrain.com/brains/3d80058c-14d8-5361-0b61-a061f89baf87/thoughts/3e2c5c75-fc49-0688-f455-6de58e4487f1/attachments/8aab91d4-5fc8-93fe-7850-d6fa828c10a9
I've heard Jerry mention the idea of "crystallization of knowledge" before. How can we concretely link this version with Cesar Hidalgo's work, esp. Why Information Grows.
Cross reference Jerry's Brain: https://app.thebrain.com/brains/3d80058c-14d8-5361-0b61-a061f89baf87/thoughts/4bfe6526-9884-4b6d-9548-23659da7811e/notes
- ideas have sex
- crystallization of knowledge
- stock and flow
- book as a playlist
- gardens and streams
- data is the new oil
- collective intelligence
- César Hidalgo
- the commons
- digital gardens
A recent book that advocates for this idea is Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized world by David Epstein. Consider reading Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You along side it: So Good They Can’t Ignore You focuses on building up “career capital,” which is important for everyone but especially people with a lot of different interests.1 People interested in interdisciplinary work (including students graduating from liberal arts or other general programs) might seem “behind” at first, but with time to develop career capital these graduates can outpace their more specialist peers.
Similar to the way that bi-lingual/dual immersion language students may temporarily fall behind their peers in 3rd and 4th grade, but rocket ahead later in high school, those interested in interdisciplinary work may seem to lag, but later outpace their lesser specializing peers.
What is the underlying mechanism for providing the acceleration boosts in these models? Are they really the same or is this effect just a coincidence?
Is there something about the dual stock and double experience or even diversity of thought that provides the acceleration? Is there anything in the pedagogy or productivity research space to explain it?
- Jul 2021
Revisiting this essay to review it in the framing of digital gardens.
In a "gardens and streams" version of this metaphor, the stream is flow and the garden is stock.
This also fits into a knowledge capture, growth, and innovation framing. The stream are small atomic ideas flowing by which may create new atomic ideas. These then need to be collected (in a garden) where they can be nurtured and grow into new things.
Clippings of these new growth can be placed back into the stream to move on to other gardeners. Clever gardeners will also occasionally browse through the gardens of others to see bigger picture versions of how their gardens might become.
Proper commonplacing is about both stock and flow. The unwritten rule is that one needs to link together ideas and expand them in places either within the commonplace or external to it: essays, papers, articles, books, or other larger structures which then become stock for others.
While some creators appear to be about all stock in the modern era, it's just not true. They're consuming streams (flow) from other (perhaps richer) sources (like articles, books, television rather than social media) and building up their own stock in more private (or at least not public) places. Then they release that article, book, film, television show which becomes content stream for others.
While we can choose to create public streams, but spending our time in other less information dense steams is less useful. Better is to keep a reasonably curated stream to see which other gardens to go visit.
Currently is the online media space we have structures like microblogs and blogs (and most social media in general) which are reasonably good at creating streams (flow) and blogs, static sites, and wikis which are good for creating gardens (stock).
What we're missing is a structure with the appropriate and attendant UI that can help us create both a garden and a stream simultaneously. It would be nice to have a wiki with a steam-like feed out for the smaller attendant ideas, but still allow the evolutionary building of bigger structures, which could also be placed into the stream at occasional times.
I can imagine something like a MediaWiki with UI for placing small note-like ideas into other streams like Twitter, but which supports Webmention so that ideas that come back from Twitter or other consumers of one's stream can be placed into one's garden. Perhaps in a Zettelkasten like way, one could collect atomic notes into their wiki and then transclude those ideas into larger paragraphs and essays within the same wiki on other pages which might then become articles, books, videos, audio, etc.
Obsidian, Roam Research do a somewhat reasonable job on the private side and have some facility for collecting data, but have no UI for sharing out into streams.
Where does this idea fit into the historical concept of the commonplace book?
Alan Jacobs seems to be delving into the area of thought spaces provided by blogs and blogging.
In my view, they come out of a cultural tradition of commonplace books becoming digital and more social in the the modern era. Jacobs is obviously aware of the idea of Zettelkasten, but possibly hasn't come across the Sonke Ahrens' book on smart notes or the conceptualization of the "digital garden" stemming from Mike Caulfield's work.
He's also acquainted with Robin Sloane, though it's unclear if he's aware of the idea of Stock and Flow.
- May 2021
The conversational feed design of email inboxes, group chats, and InstaTwitBook is fleeting – they're only concerned with self-assertive immediate thoughts that rush by us in a few moments.
The streamification of the web had already taken hold enough by this point. Anil Dash had an essay in 2012 entitled Stop Publishing Web Pages which underlined this point.
- Oct 2020
I love the general idea of where he's going here and definitively want something exactly like this.
The closest thing I've been able to find in near-finished form is having a public TiddlyWiki with some IndieWeb features. Naturally there's a lot I would change, but for the near term a mixture of a blog and a wiki is what more of us need.
I love the recontextualization of the swale that he proposes here to fit into the extended metaphor of the garden and the stream.