Maybe my blog isn’t a blog. Maybe it’s a digital garden.
According to Basu, digital gardens are spaces on the internet that, instead of traditional blogs and websites, focus on growth and learning through constantly updating and editing posts. They’re more about creating personal spaces instead of worrying about growing an audience and receiving feedback. And they also involve niche interests.
Basu’s conception of a digital garden fits pretty well with what’s been going on with my website so far. For example, hot takes about the British royal family are a personal area of interest that to people who aren’t interested, might feel like my topic is a little weird. I even thought my topic was a little too weird for a website when I first came up with it. But now after reading all about others’ digital garden topics (like museums and reflections on favourite essays), I feel a lot better about my decision to write about what interests me.
Also, my blog isn’t really concerned with attracting a large audience like Basu says. So far, my site visits have totaled less than 50, but I don’t really mind this, because I’m writing about a topic that I’m invested in, which makes me feel motivated and excited to create posts every week.
I’ve certainly taken steps to invite people into my digital garden, such as adding accessibility features and hyperlinks to create a community of royal family sources. But maybe more important attracting tons of people, I’ve made my own personal space where I can write about whatever I want.
Not a Blog?
According to Critchlow, there’s a difference between blogging and digital gardening. He explains that when blogging, people are talking to their audiences. However, with digital gardening, they’re talking to themselves and focusing on how they want to grow their websites.
I’m not exactly sure where my website lies in the blog vs. digital garden distinction. On one hand, I think I’m digital gardening because I’m mostly just talking to myself. I’m reflecting on opinions that have ruminated in my head for a long time and basically just throwing them up onto a page.
But on the other hand, I’m also creating news for an audience. For example, I’m making news articles like the one I wrote this week about the latest on King Charles’s coronation. This included researched information that didn’t just come from me. I’m also predicting my audience as per Hollenbaugh’s recommendations, even though I’m not exactly sure who it encompasses. For example, I’m writing my content based on the prediction that the people reading are royal family followers and already know the key players and concepts.
Would this mean that my website is more of a blog than a digital garden? Right now, I think that it definitely includes many aspects of digital gardens, but at the same time, because I’m trying to reach a specific audience, it isn’t exactly one. So for now, I think my website sits right in the middle.
One interesting aspect I read about in Basu’s article is the importance of change. As writers grow and change, so should the content. It should be edited and reuploaded, to the likes of a Wikipedia page. Nothing is “fossilized” in its place.
This aspect was so interesting to me because it’s something I haven’t been doing but that I might want to try. I could apply the aspect of change to my blog-type posts with predicted audiences to blur the distinction between blog and digital garden even more. For example, last week I wrote an article called “The Royal Disgrace” about Prince Andrew. This is a continuously developing story, and as more information unfolds, I could either add to the post itself, or create a part 2.
I could even apply this concept of editing, changing, and adding to my PUB 101 posts that aren’t directly royal family-oriented, like my process posts. If I made changes to my predicted audience and invited more people in, I could update my post about audiences. Or if I added another section to my menu bar, I could edit my post about navigation.
Overall, the concept of digital gardens is a very interesting one. It’s something I’ve never heard of, but it helped me feel more comfortable with the part of my blog that isn’t exactly the most “bloggish.” So for now, I feel comfortable with the fact that it’s a mix of both a blog and a digital garden. It sits right in the middle, and I’m very happy with how everything’s turning out so far.
Basu, T. (2020, September 5). Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet. MIT Technology Review. https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/09/03/1007716/digital-gardens-let-you-cultivate-your-own-little-bit-of-the-internet/
Hollenbaugh, E. E. (2021). Self-presentation in social media: Review and research opportunities. Review of Communication Research, 9, 80–98. https://doi.org/10.12840/ISSN.2255-4165.027
Wong, O. (2023). Audiences and publics. Spilling the Royaltea. http://spilling-the-royaltea.com/process-posts/audiences-and-publics/
Wong, O. (2023). Blog design part 2: Mapping it out. Spilling the Royaltea. http://spilling-the-royaltea.com/process-posts/blog-design-part-2-mapping-it-out/
Wong, O. (2023). The latest on King Charles’s coronation. Spilling the Royaltea. http://spilling-the-royaltea.com/news/the-latest-on-king-charless-coronation/
Wong, O. (2023). The royal disgrace. Spilling the Royaltea. http://spilling-the-royaltea.com/news/the-royal-disgrace/
Liliboas. (n.d.). [Planting flowers in garden] [Photograph]. Getty Images. https://www.marthastewart.com/8248515/how-start-flower-garden