The concept of a digital garden immediately resonated with me… after all, collecting disparate pieces of information and turning them into something that is useful and actionable is a large part of what I do for a living. For me, I think a big part of cultivating a successful digital garden will be in keeping it simple — any unnecessary complexity will create mental overhead that will make it less likely that I will keep doing those essential gardening tasks like planting new seeds, watering and weeding and much less likely that I’ll be able to harvest anything worthwhile (and yes, I realize that I am stretching this analogy way to far).
That idea of “collecting the dots” is key, but where it falls short for me is that collecting is only half — or maybe not even half — of the process; the value of the dots is only realized when they are connected; it’s one of those “sum of the whole” situations. With a small corpus, connecting the dots is relatively easy, but it quickly becomes a non-trivial task as the volume of information increases.
Another part of the whole digital garden thing that I’ll need to work out is around what to collect. It’s going to be a balance of resisting the temptation to add everything vs adding things that appear to have immediate value. Casting a wider net naturally opens up a wider array of possibilities, but adds to the problem of being able to effectively connect the dots, while being more discerning could limit the breadth of the information and therefore the utility of collecting it in the ﬁrst place. Anne-Laure Le Cunff articulates this perfectly:
The depth of the content you consume is not a measure of quality. Reading broad content is also a way to plant many seeds, which you may decide to nurture or not in the future. On the other side of the spectrum, some papers published in peer-reviewed publications don’t stand up to scrutiny (fraud accounts for 60% of retraction of published papers). Having a diverse information diet is more important than striving for an unattainably perfect information diet.
I need to explore the ideas of collecting and curating vs connecting and creating a little more.
Anne-Laure Le Cunff: You and your mind garden ↩︎