Curated Resource ( ? )

The Garden and the Stream: A Technopastoral | Hapgood

my notes ( ? )

I suspect this will be a canonical text for me moving forward with

Mike Caulfield in 2015, when my first hub was only about 2 years old, had also "been experimenting with another form of social media called federated wiki... instead of blogging and tweeting your experience you wiki’d it. And over time the wiki became a representation of things you knew, connected to other people’s wikis about things they knew."

This experience "has radically changed me... It’s like trying to explain literature to someone who has never read a book... the predominant form of the social web — that amalgam of blogging, Twitter, Facebook, forums, Reddit, Instagram — is an impoverished model for learning and research",

He starts with an example, where he decides to add a new topic to his wiki after reading an article.

Step 1: “de-stream” the article... extract a reusable piece out of it in a way that it can be connected to many different things ... to make a home page for this idea or fact. My hub for thinking about this" - and the page he makes is essentially a zettelkasten overview.

Step 2: "I search my wiki for articles ... I could link this to." He finds something he wrote 6 months ago and tries to find the right sentence to put in front of the link in his overview to best define the relation.

This is the same as when creating a myhub overview, although the search step includes identifying the right tags to include in the Overview's search so it pulls in all relevant content (and not too much irrelevant content - Overview Search is currently unconfigurable and too broad).

So I know what he means when he points out that the meaning one builds in this way is very different "from what we generally see on today’s web. The excitement here is in building complexity, not reducing it... [when] you’ve mapped out 1000s of articles of your own knowledge you start to see impacts on your thought that are very hard to describe... a deep network that helps you think. Here’s a representation of links to and from a page called “On Its Side” in my own wiki ... I created a wiki on issues of found art without even knowing it".

He then (re)introduces two "different approaches to the Web: The Garden and the Stream:

  • The Garden is the web as topology... as space. It’s the integrative web, the iterative web, the web as an arrangement and rearrangement of things to one another... Things in the Garden don’t collapse to a single set of relations or canonical sequence"
  • you don’t experience the Stream by walking around it and looking at it... jump in and ... feel the force of it hit you ... your actions ... exist in a context that is collapsed down to a simple timeline of events that together form a narrative... the Stream replaces topology with serialization... a single, time ordered path with our experience (and only our experience) at the center...

Whereas the garden is integrative, the Stream is self-assertive. It’s persuasion, it’s argument, it’s advocacy. It’s personal and personalized and immediate. It’s invigorating. And... profoundly unsuited to some of the uses we put it to."

Which brings him to how today's web does not work like Vannevar Bush’s Memex, despite its huge influence on hypertext, because the memex:

  • "is a library not a publication device
  • You have copies of documents... you can annotate, change, add links to, summarize ... these are the verbs of gardening
  • this is because the memex is a tool to think with, not a tool to publish with."

(Hence - why not have both?)

Not that myhub provides you what a memex library does: "your original materials and the materials of others" - you can annotate the work of others, and share those notes, but you can't reach out and edit someone else's content, and you shouldn't grab an entire copy of it either (copyright).

The goal is "the ultimate garden...[where] connections aren’t banter, but the construction of a mental model of a subject area... taken by someone else and extended... Humanity can advance, not through argument by through a true collaboration."

We don't see this because instead we see the stream. A short history of the creation of blogging, then syndication, then today's social platforms modelled on the "personal page + feed reader" paradigm, creating a "web of “hey this is cool” one-hop links... creat[ing] a conversational trail ... instead of associations of ideas... The “conversational web”... obsessed with arguing points... a tool for self-expression and sealed shut presentations ... rather than a tool for thought or a reconfigurable model of understanding".

And here's the problem: "Everybody wants to play in the Stream, but no one wants to build the Garden." Just compare the time we all spend "arguing, promoting our ideas [with the]... time we’ve spent contributing to the general pool of knowledge... we’re infatuated with the stream... our own voice... the argument we’re in, the point we’re trying to make, the people in our circle we’re talking to." Compare Facebook's billions of users with "about 31,000 active wikipedians that hold English Wikipedia together... We should be ashamed."

We should be working towards connected Personal Learning Networks as "an effort to connect work together, not just people."

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The above notes were curated from the full post

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See also: Content Creation & Marketing , Content Strategy , Digital Transformation , Fediverse (Overview) , Social Media , Zettelkasten (Overview)

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