I am writing a blog post every day from December 1st to December 24th, 2021, about a blogger whose writing or site I follow. My aim for this series is to help you discover new blogs and to help get the word out about content creators whose blogs I appreciate. You can read more about this series in the inaugural Day 1 post.
Maggie Appleton's Digital Garden
I was surfing the web yesterday and came across Maggie Appleton's digital garden. This is not my first visit to Maggie's digital garden but the last time I explored was a few months ago. I came across Maggie's site when I was looking to learn more about how people categorise books on their site. Maggie has her own "library" where she shares the books she has been reading, which got me thinking more about sharing media you have consumed on your site.
Maggie's site has both a library that acts as a reading list and an antilibrary of books that Maggie likes the idea of reading. I love the idea to classify books depending on whether you want to read, have read, or like the idea of reading. The antilibrary resonated with me because I too have many books in my head that I like the idea of reading without my having started the book. Maggie's library pages are presented with book covers so it's almost as if you are exploring a bookshelf when looking around the page.
I entered on the library page. After some exploration, I came back to Maggie's digital garden for the first time in months. Maggie's garden is a place where she shares essays and notes that are still in development. There is no guarantee that a piece of content just published will be complete: it may be matured, or grown, later on as Maggie thinks of new topics and ideas to add. I love digital gardens for their approach to thinking through ideas. Similar to wikis, digital gardens encourage fleshing out ideas over writing a complete article in one go.
Commenting on the "growth stages" inherent with her blog, Maggie says:
Notes begin as seedlings, grow into buddings, and finally reach an evergreen stage. Some of them go on to become essays if I feel I have a clear opinion on the topic.
To distinguish seedlings, buddings, and evergreen posts, you can use the labels that share those names and appear at the beginning of each essay. These tags convey useful context about the extent to which an idea is fleshed out.
You can also tell if a page may be revisited based on the "coming soon" component that is present at the bottom of some posts. There are also assumed audience blocks to indicate the intended audience for a web page and alert blocks too. These are documented on Maggie's colophon, a short document that outlines how her site works. I love the on-page indicators documented on the colophon. These show that a lot of thought has gone into how visitors experience and explore Maggie's garden.
I have bookmarked many pages to read on Maggie's blog. The most recent one I read was "Meet the Robowaiter APIs Serving Us Data", a comic that compares APIs to waiters. This post contains the best non-technical explanation I have seen of APIs thus far. I also liked Maggie's post called "Fetishism & Mechanical Keyboards" where she talks about the rabbit hole of mechanical keyboards. There are plenty more posts that I want to read, especially the posts on digital anthropology and digital garden history.
Maggie's posts end with a "backlinks" section that lists other resources that link to a note in the garden. These links are bi-directional which means that the resource that is being linked to also links to the page on which the link appears. In other words, the link is two-way. This section is interesting because it means you can see what is almost a list of curated posts that relate to a note. If a post links to a note in some way, there is a good chance that post is at least somewhat relevant to the subject matter of the asset being linked.
I am now at the end of this challenge. Twenty-four days ago, I said to myself that I would write one blog post on every day of Advent about a blogger whose work I enjoy. I have since extended the idea a bit to include digital gardens but both of these concepts share the same principle of publishing your thoughts on the web. The spirit of this series is to help you find interesting content to follow on the web that is published on personal websites.
I hope I have illustrated that there are plenty of independent bloggers on the web. In fact, you could easily spend a couple of hours surfing the web just by clicking on a few links in the series and clicking around on the sites you visit.
This series has been a pleasure to write. There have been moments where I have thought about stopping. Writing a blog post every day for 24 days is difficult. Although I am glad I followed through. I have received some great feedback from this series. I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to read one of the posts in my Advent of Bloggers collection.
I will end this series with two asks. First, if you see a cool blog, share it with other people who you think will find the blog interesting. Word-of-mouth is a key mechanism through which those who own personal blogs get the word out about their content. Second, if you want to express yourself on the internet by publishing content, I'd recommend starting your own personal website.
On your own website, you are in control over how your content appears, the structure of your site, and everything else. You can make decisions that you otherwise could not make on platforms like Instagram where the entire "user experience" has already been planned out and built.
Thank you again for following this series. Happy holidays!
Other posts in this series
Check out the other posts I have written as part of this series.
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