Short about

 Hi, my name is Bhuvan.

This site is a tiny corner on the raging dumpster fire that is the interweb where I handpick and share interesting things that humans have published.

Long and deranged about

 Hi, my name is Bhuvan.

I like reading random things and going down weird rabbit holes. It’s fun. For as long as I can remember, I’ve also shared interesting things I discovered with friends and colleagues. It was never deliberate, but something I started doing.

Except for books, I’ve always read random things. Not having mobile phones and TVs at some points in life helped. But along the way, I became lazy and stopped reading books. Like every person on the planet, my unique and original 2023 New Year’s resolution was to read more books.

The first book I read in 2023 was Curation: The power of selection in a world of excess by Michael Bhaskar. I may have chosen the books because I had watched a talk by the author—I can’t remember. It might have been because “information overload” has always been on my mind. The book is an easy read; the key idea is that we no longer live in a world of scarcity but abundance. Given the unlimited choice in everything from what we buy to what we read, curation is the key to coping with and making sense of the world. As the author defines it, curation is the “act of selecting, refining, and arranging to add value.”

Since I read the book, the idea of curation has stuck in my mind. Since I try to read as much as possible and share things, I started exploring more about the idea of curation. Every year, I try to organize the things I’ve saved elsewhere but I have given up after being been overwhelmed. By organizing, I mean not dumping links but maintaining them by adding context. The term in my head was “live posts.”

What if kept adding to a post, instead of publishing and forgetting? I have terrible memory but the inspiration was Vox Media’s cards format. They were swipeable cards at the end of each post that would be updated to add more context to the post as stories developed. Vox killed cards but still think the format was brilliant. News organizations publish hundreds and thousands of new posts every day, and they are all discrete items. Why don’t they update the existing posts? I keep wondering about this.

So, when I started my personal blog, I didn’t want just to publish posts but to keep them updated.

I didn’t.

Instead, I started writing long essays on things I liked. I never got around to organizing things. Then I heard Maggie Appleton talk about “digital gardening” on The Informed Life podcast, and the thought was reborn.

Digital gardening is a movement that wants to redefine how we interact with information. A digital garden is what you’d get if a blog, journal, and wiki had a kid. The movement is a reaction to the tyranny of chronological feeds, in which we publish and consume information. A digital garden is a personal space where you collect, connect, and curate thoughts and ideas.

When you publish a blog post, it’s done; there’s a start and an end. But a digital garden is never done. It’s a messy and ever-evolving spacet. It’s designed to help you discover new connections and meanings as it grows—things you otherwise wouldn’t have noticed in the straitjacketed world of chronological feeds. Here’s how Mike Caulfield, a key figure in the movement, describes a digital garden:

The stream has dominated our lives since the mid-2000s,” Caulfield says. But it means people are either posting content or consuming it. And, Caulfield says, the internet as it stands rewards shock value and dumbing things down. “By engaging in digital gardening, you are finding new connections, more depth and nuance,” he says. “What you write about is not a fossilized bit of commentary for a blog post. When you learn more, you add to it. It’s less about shock and rage; it’s more connective.” In an age of doom-scrolling and Zoom fatigue, some digital-garden enthusiasts say the internet they live in is, as Caulfield puts it, “optimistically hopeful. Mike Caulfield

A “post” forces you to think about a start and an end, but the beauty of a digital garden is that it primes you to explore. As you explore, you learn. The more you learn, the more patterns you observe and connections you make. Exploration reminds me of a beautiful post by Morgan Housel:

Figure out how the world works and align with those realities. And here’s an obvious trick: The best way to learn how the world works is to realize how connected everything is. The big lessons from one field can often teach you something critical about other fields. We’re usually taught as if math is math and chemistry is chemistry, with each field siloed off in its own department, focused on its own truths. But learning of that sort is only useful in academia. The real world has no silos. The big learning comes when you connect the dots from one field to the next. And once you do so, you realize those connections are infinite. It’s all just one big web. A big web of how the world works. Morgan Housel

I’m wary of buzzwords because they are often a cover for nonsense, but digital gardening feels like an exception. I don’t know if it will ever catch on, but I love the ethos of exploration and discovery. I hope they catch on because that will be a welcome change on the raging dumpster fire that is the interweb.

It’s easy to make a virtue of things like curation and digital gardens and dunk on paginated chronological feeds, but I think that’s extreme. We can praise the virtues of the intewerb of the old and yearn for it all we want, but we aren’t getting it back. When life gives you lemons, you can squeeze them in your eyes to blind yourself to the interweb hellscape or buy chicken and make lemon chicken.

The fact that we’re used to chronological feeds for publishing and consuming information doesn’t worry me. What worries me more is the industrial-scale production of garbage.

Everything has become so performative. We no longer write; we “publish content.” We no longer edit; we “optimize.” We “produce content” to please the invisible algorithmic overlords. We grovel before them, hoping they will bless us with views and likes. The result of this endless “optimization” and “hacking” is that everything looks the same today—packaged, formulaic bullshit. It’s all bland, colorless, and odorless vomit.

An entire generation has been brainwashed into this way of thinking. If you fart in an interview, you must write a LinkedIn post about 10 lessons you learned from letting one rip. If you read those glorified paperweights called books, you have to write a Twitter thread (now an X-rated thread) on how it changed your life and blew your mind. God forbid, if you don’t have anything to say, you must extract words from the human anatomical region that opens in the hind part of your lower abdomen, or the algorithmic overlords will be displeased.

People no longer write and share things because they want to and I think that’s a tragedy. Most of what you see online, especially on social media, is just engagement bait.

The moment “content” became the preferred term to describe “writing,” “audio,” and “video,” we took a sharp left turn to a place of no return. “Content” truly has to be one of the most vile words in English.

Ok, I’ll dispense with the totally sane and not deranged rant.

The very, very short point I’m trying to make is that given the bland dumpster fire the interweb has become, choosing your own rabbit holes and adventures is the key to coping. There has to be balance in all things—between writing, publishing, posting, curating, scrolling, consuming, and getting consumed.

I don’t know what this site will be or if it’ll even survive, but welcome to my digital garden—a collection of weird and wonderful things on the dumpster fire that is the interweb.

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