HELP WANTED: readings on Information Gardening

For a demo I’d like to make, I need a list of reading on “Information Gardening”. For example:

I’m interested in academic research but equally interested in non-academic writing — especially recent work. I don’t need formal references in any particular style, but author, title, and (where applicable) a URL are pretty essential.

I imagine there might be 100 or so solid references. Big tent: “digital gardening” and “information farming” are all welcome, but not computer programs that help you decide what to plant in your backyard.

This could be compiled either as a simple list (as above) or a Tinderbox document, or both. I’d like to have it next week — say, May 29.


From @eastagate’s Enactment in Information Farming (HYPERTEXT’93), p.242:

Information farming (or gardening) views the cultivation of information as a continuing, collaborative activity performed by groups of people working together to achieve changing individual and common goals. Where the mine and factory serve the organization, the information farm is a computational space where colleagues and employees may work together on shared tasks and also pursue individual goals. The focus is neither on extraction (as in the mine) nor on stockpiling (as in the information factory), but on continuous cultivation and community.

Tangential perhaps, as hypertext PoV (disclaimer: my paper) but I guess Docuverse Despatch: Information Farming For The Collective could go on your list: Docuverse Despatch | Proceedings of the 31st ACM Conference on Hypertext and Social Media. In hindsight, it’s a shame space precluded working this angle into the overview of Seven Hypertexts ( Happy memories of being a wiki gardener on the Tinderbox wiki (not dark) which was essentially the progenitor of this forum, via a few other incarnations).

I think info gardening happens despite rather than because of organised effort. Birds-fo-a-feather tend to flock: the result is sometimes distributed, via that ‘hyperhuman’ group, small discrete gardens rather than a large farm.

At scale, for all its good things Wikipedia shows (my doctoral research) that we don’t play nice with the other kids and ownership trumps sharing. But at a less global scale focused curation and sharing thrives out of the spotlight. Though art history isn’t my strong point, I think Howard Oakley’s blog ’ The Eclectic Light Company is interesting for it main themes—macOS tech, art history—whilst still having diversion into less common subject like a nice series of articles on Storyspace: Storyspace and hypertext: index to articles (version 2) – The Eclectic Light Company.

Will dig into my library…

Mike Caufield The Garden and the Stream, a Technopastoral (2015)

A lot of “digital gardening” concepts are almost skeuomorphic, focusing on growth stages from seed to fruit.

Caufield focuses more on the “gardening” process in terms of sensemaking.


In French :

I don’t know what information gardening is, so I can’t contribute anything to that idea. Instead I tend to think of information as food, so the process is:
And we all know what the last stage is …


You mean: gain weight?


Not if you do enough exercise!!


Late to the party (no thanks for the delays and lost baggage, LH), and will mention Jillian Hess’ How Romantics and Victorians Organized Information, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading, often because it puts activities we now call “information gardening” into a deep context in earlier non-digital periods. Jillian’s Noted Substack continues her investigations.


Speaking of commonplace books, there is Doctorow’s post The Memex Method, which shares the spirit of the “digital garden” inasmuch as it is a deeply linked and public information space that has emergent properties.