The Garden and the Stream: A Technopastoral
The Garden and the Stream: A Technopastoral

The Garden and the Stream: A Technopastoral

just imagine that 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. So when I see an article like this I think — Wow, I don’t have much in my wiki about gun control, this seems like a good start to build it out and I make a page. The first thing I do is “de-stream” the article. The article is about Oregon, but I want to extract a reusable piece out of it in a way that it can be connected to many different things eventually. I want to make a home page for this idea or fact. My hub for thinking about this.

The excitement here is in building complexity, not reducing it. More importantly note how meaning changes here. We probably know what the tweet would have “meant”, and what a blog post would have “meant”, but meaning here is something different. Instead of building an argument about the issue this attempts to build a model of the issue that can generate new understandings.

Tags: digital garden

Note: A key difference from simple blogging that tries to boil things down, simplify, and erase the shades of grey.

The Garden is the web as topology. The web 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, and that’s part of what we mean when we say “the web as topology” or the “web as space”. Every walk through the garden creates new paths, new meanings, and when we add things to the garden we add them in a way that allows many future, unpredicted relationships

Each flower, tree, and vine is seen in relation to the whole by the gardener so that the visitors can have unique yet coherent experiences as they find their own paths through the garden. We create the garden as a sort of experience generator, capable of infinite expression and meaning.

The Garden is what I was doing in the wiki as I added the Gun Control articles, building out a network of often conflicting information into a web that can generate insights, iterating it, allowing that to grow into something bigger than a single event, a single narrative, or single meaning.

In the stream metaphor you don’t experience the Stream by walking around it and looking at it, or following it to its end. You jump in and let it flow past. You feel the force of it hit you as things float by. It’s not that you are passive in the Stream. You can be active. But your actions in there — your blog posts, @ mentions, forum comments — exist in a context that is collapsed down to a simple timeline of events that together form a narrative. In other words, the Stream replaces topology with serialization. Rather than imagine a timeless world of connection and multiple paths, the Stream presents us with a single, time ordered path with our experience (and only our experience) at the center.

You have copies of documents is there that you control directly, that you can annotate, change, add links to, summarize, and this is because the memex is a tool to think with, not a tool to publish with.

to link, annotate, change, summarize, copy, and share — these are the verbs of gardening.

Links are associative. This is a huge deal. Links are there not only as a quick way to get to source material. They aren’t a way to say, hey here’s the interesting thing of the day. They remind you of the questions you need to ask, of the connections that aren’t immediately evident.

A stunning thing that we forget, but the link here is not part of the author’s intent, but of the reader’s analysis. The majority of links in the memex are made by readers, not writers.

The historian, with a vast chronological account of a people, parallels it with a skip trail which stops only on the salient items, and can follow at any time contemporary trails which lead him all over civilization at a particular epoch. There is a new profession of trail blazers, those who find delight in the task of establishing useful trails through the enormous mass of the common record.

the web as we know it today. A web of “hey this is cool” one-hop links. A web where where links are used to create a conversational trail (a sort of “read this if you want to understand what I am riffing on” link) instead of associations of ideas. The “conversational web”. A web obsessed with arguing points. A web seen as a tool for self-expression rather than a tool for thought. A web where you weld information and data into your arguments so that it can never be repurposed against you. The web not as a reconfigurable model of understanding but of sealed shut presentations.

Note: Not a terrible experience, just an incomplete one. Conversation only, not collaboration and association

Everybody wants to play in the Stream, but no one wants to build the Garden.

You want ethics of networked knowledge? Think about that for a minute — how much time we’ve all spent arguing, promoting our ideas, and how little time we’ve spent contributing to the general pool of knowledge. Why? Because we’re infatuated with the stream, infatuated with our own voice, with the argument we’re in, the point we’re trying to make, the people in our circle we’re talking to.

There’s a billion people posting what they think about crap on Facebook. There’s about 31,000 active wikipedians that hold English Wikipedia together. That’s about the population of Stanford University, students, faculty and staff combined, for the entire English speaking world.

Studio Space, the idea of working next to people while building, of looking at their stuff out of the corner of your eye. Your work reacts and connects to theirs, not in this disposable or reactive way, but in this iterative way. And it’s about getting back to the idea that our Personal Learning Network isn’t just our twitter followers, but is an effort to connect work together not just people. And maybe to understand the process of connecting and building and extending the work of others is as human and engaging as the conversational Stream.