Aquiles.me

the garden or the stream

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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

[...] This is true of everything in the garden. 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.

Mike Caulfield1 [@mikecaulfield2015The Garden and the Stream: A Technopastoral] talks about gardens as multi-purpose and they change with the perspective of whoever is watching and walking through them. They change over time through seasons, they change if one moves to a new spot. With this idea, websites such as Wikipedia are gardens. They change depending on where we start, what path we follow, what drives us to follow it, etc.

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.

The stream is the what we are most used to. Streams are Twitter and Facebook feeds. But they are also blogs. One article comes after the other (see: breaking the chronological order). In this stream we can't build on our opinions, we can just keep posting. Streams flow past us. Importantly, it presents only one possible experience: our own.

On the other hand,

There is a path in between, which is called the federated wiki, in which streams are put into context by embedding themselves into other people's websites. This is already similar to a blog post in which the author starts by commenting other's views, but in a systematic, transparent way.

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 as we may see in a minute it’s also profoundly unsuited to some of the uses we put it to.


  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckv_CjyKyZY&feature=emb_logo 

Aquiles Carattino
Aquiles Carattino
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