from evy's notebook

I've been tending to this garden for almost six months, and it's been one of my most consistent sources of creativity and play over this challenging year. A few folks have asked me about how I feel about various aspects of this space, and I'd like to take some time to reflect on my relationship with this digital garden.

on ease of iteration

One of my favourite parts of my garden is how easy it feels to add in-progress projects to it. Whenever I come up with an idea of something I want to build, or a piece of writing I want to share, I have a low-pressure place I can put it. Sure, it's not set up to easily build any piece of technology I think of - I don't have a frontend framework or database set up, which has led me to build simpler pages and copy-paste html, but that's been all the rage these days anyways, and I do appreciate the handcrafted webpage aesthetic.

But why does it feel so easy to add things that are in progress? I've been known to fall into perfectionism traps, but it feels easier to add imperfect things here.

I think this is partially because I made an early commitment to building this space as a garden. People have been talking about the concepts of evergreen notes and digital gardens on the web more lately - the idea of websites that are never complete and always in progress. When creating this garden, I committed to this aesthetic. I wanted it to look under construction. My first home page was literally just a link to my thoughts page. A later homepage with a music jukebox included a TODO written directly into the html.

I also find it easy to add things to my garden because it feels like people don't see a lot of what I add here. When I post on social media, I know my writing or pictures will be pushed to people's feeds, but this is a space where only the occasional passerby wanders through. Sometimes I share direct links to certain projects or pieces of writing, but how many people would regularly return to explore the corners of this space? (Perhaps the answer is more than I think, but it's still freeing to not be able to answer this question.) This also helps me feel less pressure to make each piece of what I make "good" - e.g. I want my thoughts page to overall feel like it reflects me, but I care less about the quality of each individual "thought" I write than I do about each of my individual tweets. I care less about the quality of each notebook post I write than how interesting it feels to browse. I'm building a whole garden, not pushing out individual quality pieces of content.

My garden also offers me a variety of levels of privacy - when I add something to my garden, that doesn't necessarily mean people will see it. I can add something to my site and not share it anywhere (e.g. this page of cute gifs my partner has sent me, which I haven't publicly linked to until now), and I can share pages in public spaces without linking to them from my garden homepage (e.g. my sunday sites profile). This makes it easy to work on a new project without feeling like it has to be good enough to share widely. And once I start working on something, maybe I'll eventually decide I do want to share it! I try to put up an early version of things on the garden when I can, sharing as privately (e.g. with friends or in group chats) or widely (e.g. on twitter) as I want to with each iteration.

on my relationship to technology

I build websites for my job, but I've never been particularly interested in doing programming in my free time. This garden is set up on a Digital Ocean droplet running lighttpd, and though setting it up wasn't particularly fun or interesting to me (and tbh I've already forgotten most of what I learned about how it works), I now have more flexibility for the things I create than if I were using glitch to make toy javascript pages or tumblr to host a blog.

Now I can add javascript to blog posts, and I can write a script to be able add to my thoughts page without having to edit html or manually create and push a commit.

I find myself occasionally wanting to make (or wanting to just have) a fun webpage, but not wanting to build a new website or find a third-party app to do it for me. It's nice to have this garden already set up and ready for me to add little things to. I've written more code for fun in the past six months than I did for a long time before that, and I appreciate the widened scope of creative work that this garden has brought into my life.

on inspiration

There's so much I've planted here!! When I think about how all of this has come together so far, I realize so much of it is thanks to my friends and communities.

I created this website after attending an event touring weird internet spaces, and a team meeting where my coworker showed me his old geocities websites. I added a thoughts page because I was inspired by Maren's and Wesley's. My manifesto was inspired by a similar list Omar made. My lists page was inspired by several personal websites as well as a small online community centered around lists. Regularly writing in a notebook was inspired by Wesley's notebook which was inspired by DRMacIver's Notebook and his post on starting a daily writing practice. Recording myself saying "hello" in a variety of ways was inspired by a time I answered the phone and my friend was amused by the tone with which I greeted them.

I'm surrounded by so many interesting people that inspire me to do cool things, and I'm so grateful to know them. I look forward to all the cool discoveries and experiments this garden holds for me in my future :)