I am soooo thrilled about this find. I had a huge EUREKA moment when i realised this and connected the dots. It’s not that i found a new tool that is so revolutionary, this is a tool that has been there for years already, but probably no one realised that it could be used to create and maintain a digital garden easily and effectively.
Although i am very sure about the tool being able to satisfy my requirements of a digital garden, i would like to take a few steps back and see if this would satisfy the general requirements of other enthusiasts as well.
For that, i need all your support to create a big master list of requirements, that you would come to expect from your “dream” Digital Gardening Tool. Kindly share your needs under this post, so that i can verify the limits of this said tool and also come up with a proposal of how this is going to be perfect
I am starting with my list of requirements :
Should let me connect notes/posts
Should show backlinks
Let’s me edit and add newly discovered information, with the least amount of friction
Ease of editing and pushing content is important
Version control is desirable
When i wish to, i must be able to allow other’s to write and edit with me
Readers should have the ability to follow the posts that they desire and be notified of any changes
The system should never spam the inbox of a reader
I should be able to take the readers through a narrated journey if i desire
SEO (as much as i hate SEO, i have to tune my content so that it reaches more people)
The dynamic content should be compatible with SEO.
A Community experience built in for my readers
Manage email lists
Have user metrics of the articles/notes and also for community engagement
Gamification elements that readers can enjoy
Be able to share my writings to other social media with the push of a button, if readers desire
if you’re offering all this, then i’ll throw my ghost blog in the bin and jump on board. i need to write content that can be a blog post or a pithy note, both of which i can send out as a newsletter to my subscribers with the click of a button. medium like commenting is cool but i prefer taking the conversation to twitter as i do on my blog. so if there’s ability to inject such functionality and tracking codes into the header and footer, that’d be perfect.
The main problem as of now is the aesthetics. Like I mentioned this tool wasn’t meant to be used a blog or digital garden platform and hence we are not going to have that feel of the blog, out of the box at least.
Nevertheless, it can be customised. That is a one time setup that we might have to look into. That’s a major downside, but not an impossible task; also considering the fact that it makes things so much more easier on the publishing and editing fronts, it’s a small one time effort to put in.
haha, it’s just a tease i am playing with a few people from the discord server.
But on a serious note, I have discovered the possibility of using a familiar tool (which was never intended to serve as a digital garden management tool) to help publish and maintain digital gardens easily.
I am on the process of setting it up, as we speak and once i am confident enough about my claim, i will share my digital garden with everyone, along with a guide which explains why I think it’s the easiest and most effective way to manage a garden (for now) and also documents how I configured it
Meanwhile, if you have ever been interested in digital gardens, it would be great to hear your thoughts regarding your “perfect digital garden management tool” .
Sooo since Karthikk never spilled the beans, I’ve gotten his permission to do so. The platform he (and I) got excited about is Discourse itself! The very software we use to run this forum. Yes, it’s intended for multi-user, discussion-oriented websites, but this is actually part of what makes it a good digital garden platform, in addition to a whole host of other reasons! I’ve outlined some of them in my brand new digital garden based itself on Discourse! Have a look-see and let me know what you think:
Yes, there are several that are of potential use, depending on what you want to achieve. Mostly they are aesthetic/design-oriented, for example the “blog style” theme component that makes posts look sort of like blog posts (large image at top, bigger topic text and different body text style). Also the “tile” gallery view for topic lists rather than a simple list view. Neither of those are critical to the digital garden functionality, but they make it feel less like a discussion forum and more like a blog (ironically).
I am happy to list out everything I ended up using (as well as a few I plan to implement but haven’t had time to configure yet). But if you have any specific questions about how something was done, or something you’d like to achieve with Discourse, let me know.
If you wanted to you could take the navigation scheme in a totally different direction, too. Discourse is very flexible, so you just need a little creative thinking. For example there are “featured topic” theme components, so you could probably make the front page (first view a visitor sees) just a view of the full text of a single topic, which would be kind of like the MoC, manually curated front pages of a lot of people’s digital gardens, e.g.
Unlike my approach, both of those do not immediately expose a “list of topics” or have much in the way of navigation aids. You’re just supposed to click through the linked topics on that first post. Although that gives you more of a literalization of a “garden”, which you have to explore from a single point of entry, I tend to feel it’s an over-literalization of the metaphor. But you could certainly create that kind of approach if you wanted, just as an example.
Let me know what you’d like to create and I’ll see if I can help!