A ‘Digital Garden’ is basically a different way of looking at and approaching your web presence. It applies an organic metaphor to what we do on the web. Just like an organic garden, our digital gardens grow (often in ways we don’t plan for), die back (sometimes unexpectedly) and require tending to keep healthy. Sometimes, all you can do is plow the whole thing under and start over. I first learned of ‘digital gardens’ from emsenn, who cites Joel Hooks as a popularizer of the term.
That’s the ‘what’ of digital gardens, but this page is titled Why a Digital Garden. So let’s talk about why — the why of this digital garden.
A Gift of Writing
I could start at the beginning, at the path I took to understand that I needed a digital garden. But I think it’s best to start at the end.
The end was a book called Braiding Sweetgrass, specifically the chapter ‘The Gift of Strawberries.’ It made me realize that I had been approaching my website as part of consumer culture — as a tool for marketing. But that isn’t ever what I meant it to be.
My website, my writing online, started as a gift — a gift of knowledge, of experience, of ‘hey, I’ve been there too, you aren’t alone!’
A garden — a public garden — is also a gift.
Blogging Is a Runner Vine
If a website is (part of) a garden, then a blog is a runner vine that just continues endlessly into the distance. Runner vines have a place in a garden — but they aren’t the point of a garden. A blog is, in the end, a fairly restrictive way to write. Everything tied together by reverse chronology, whether that makes sense or not. Blogging, chronologically linked writing, makes perfect sense for my serialized fiction. But no sense at all for the essays on identity and interaction that form the bulk of my recent ‘I share this as a gift’ nonfiction writing. So my website, as the center of my digital garden, will shift from being blog-focused to a maze of webpages, each leading to another (or several others) that you can explore at your leisure (or not).
The runner vine will have it’s place. But it will no longer overgrow the garden, choking out everything else.
I am not a marketer. I am not a salesperson. I’ve tried for years to ‘market myself’, ‘build an audience,’ and all those catch phrases. All I got was misery.
What I am, at heart, is a writer and a caretaker. So… here is my garden made of writing. I will care for it, and offer it to you. The only price of admission is the time you choose to spend and that you not be an asshole while you are here. I look forward to digging deep into mental ‘soil’ and letting my writing flow free of constraints and expectations. I hope the fruit of my soul brings you nourishment.
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