The Stream and the Garden

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A distinction by Mike Caulfield:

  • “Garden” is like classic literature. Things are meant to persist.1 It’s evergreen content,2 relevant and not recent3. On the web, this can be a wiki.1
  • “Stream” is about conversation, sequence, and temporality. News, blogs, Twitter, Facebook (I sorted these by the speed of the flow inside the stream). Based around capturing attention through the conversation: ‘this is what I’m interested in at the moment.’4

“Perennial” content

Relevant publications can also be called “perennial”, as in Holiday’s “perennial seller”.5 The difference to the “garden” stuff here is that an online garden is a well-maintained web repository of knowledge, while a “perennial seller” is mostly about things like books.

Gardens are good for the web

I really like that the “digital garden” metaphor is picking up speed, because it can only make content on the web better. Not everything fits the timeline of a blog, and after a while, you will need to have an overview, or old but good posts are hidden in obscurity.

  1. Mike Caulfield: “The Web Stream Was Designed for Information Underload” (2016-10-09),  2

  2. Andy Matuschak: “Evergreen note-writing as fundamental unit of knowledge work”, 

  3. Shawn Blanc: “Relevancy vs. Recency” (2015-11-02), 

  4. Mike Caulfield: “The Garden and the Stream: A Technopastoral” (2015-10-17), 

  5. Ryan Holiday (2017): Perennial Seller. The art of making and marketing work that lasts, New York: Portfolio.