Blogging as Gardening

A lovely blog post by Marc Weidenbaum:

The year 2019 is, according to Merriam-Webster, among other sources that track such things, the 20th anniversary of the origin of the word “blog.” Anniversaries are welcome opportunities to renew vows, to rejuvenate traditions, and to build on foundations.

2019 is also the 20th anniversary of jarango.com. My site started as my online business card but soon turned into a (not very active) blog. With the (coincident) disappearance of Google Reader and the rise of social media, my writing here whittled down to a couple of posts a year.

That changed a couple of years ago. I was in the final stretch writing Living in Information, and wanted to keep writing. (I know, weird.) I was also contemplating the next stage of my career as a solo consultant and was thinking about ways of getting my ideas out in the world. Also, like many others, I’d started to question the value of what I was doing in social media. It seemed to me at the time that I was creating an awful lot of content to feed somebody else’s bottom line. If I was going to be writing anyway, why not do so in my own information environment? A return to regular blogging was an obvious step under these circumstances.

Blogging is (unfortunately) an unusual enough activity these days that people often ask me why I do it. I tell them how much pleasure I get from writing (as I said, weird) and how it draws some attention to my services. But I also tell them the most important benefit I get from this blog is something Mr. Weidenbaum highlights in his post:

As Iago says in “Othello,” in a different context, “our wills are gardeners.” Blogs are gardens of ideas. (I mention gardens a lot when I talk about blogs. It’s because gardening is a key metaphor in generative music and my blog activism is a stealth campaign for generative music. Just kidding. Kinda. It’s mostly because it’s a useful metaphor for blogs, and I have a garden.)

(If you’ve read Living in Information, you’ve seen the metaphor of gardening in generative music and how we can use it to build resilience online.)

When it comes to ideas, the blog can serve as a public sketchbook — that is, one that 1) exposes ideas early and often, 2) to people with a wider variety of perspectives, so 3) the ideas can be strengthened (or discarded) through feedback. Writing here allows me to share things I’ve learned and things I’m thinking about very quickly — that is, in an unpolished state. This often results in pointers that invariably make the ideas stronger. Writing — even “quick and dirty” writing — helps me structure my thinking. I’ve often discovered what I really think about a subject by having to think about how to tell you about it.

So thank you for indulging me by reading this far. Please do get in touch if you have any thoughts on the stuff you read here.

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