The Garden and the Stream

The Garden is an old metaphor associated with hypertext. […] The Garden is the web as topology. The web as space. It’s the integrative web, the iterative web, the web as an arrangement and rearrangement of things to one another. Things in the Garden don’t collapse to a single set of relations or canonical sequence […]. Every walk through the garden creates new paths, new meanings, and when we add things to the garden we add them in a way that allows many future, unpredicted relationships. […] In the Garden, to ask what happened first is trivial at best.”

The Stream is a newer metaphor with old roots. […] More recently, the term stream has been applied to the never ending parade of Twitter, news alerts, and Facebook feeds. [You] don’t experience the Stream by walking around it and looking at it, or following it to its end. You jump in and let it flow past. You feel the force of it hit you as things float by. […] It’s not that you are passive in the Stream. You can be active. But your actions in there — your blog posts, @ mentions, forum comments — exist in a context that is collapsed down to a simple timeline of events that together form a narrative. […] In other words, the Stream replaces topology with serialization. Rather than imagine a timeless world of connection and multiple paths, the Stream presents us with a single, time ordered path with our experience (and only our experience) at the center.”


Ever since I discovered this terminology and “digital gardens” I’ve been fascinated by it. A digital garden is a personal website with little or no categorical structure other than intersecting hyperlinks. Bit by bit, you tie these pages together with wandering pathways. Try experimenting with your own here.

Being so used to “stream” experiences, my first time wandering around in a digital garden felt so peaceful and engaging, despite the almost complete lack of a design beyond text, space, and links.

As a design principle, I think we’d end up with something truly special at Resonate if our platform, particularly the Resonate Player (and aspects of the forum) fostered this “garden” experience. Use streams for stuff that really makes sense as streams, and simultaneously try to foster this wandering world of interlinking garden paths between our profile pages on the Player.

In terms of user experience and design, a considered integration of these two styles could be a really fresh and liberating experience.


This is insanely interesting, thanks! For sure if there ended up being a component on the artist profiles for artists to express themselves, it could allow this type of structure.

I also see a potential for user provided recommendations to other artists that would be bi-directional (user says x artist is similar to y, they’re both linked together).

Mmm lots of really rough ideas but I’m unable to put them in words yet.