Slow-Writing with Wikity

A short note about something that occurred to me today, one that will only make sense to people who have been following my Wikity project.

When I first started to play around with Wikity as a PLE (Personal Learning Environment), I would usually follow this pattern:

  • I’d set aside time for a writing session.
  •  I’d find material to blockquote and blockquote it.
  •  I’d give it a title.
  •  I’d write a summary of it at the top.
  •  I’d go down and think about what connections I could make to other Wikity cards.

I describe this process in a summer blog post.

I’ve just noticed that as I’ve gotten more comfortable with Wikity i do this less and less in a single sitting.

What I do more and more is this:

  •  As the day goes by, I see interesting stuff, can’t bother to stop and process it, but I capture it with the Wikity bookmark and title it.
  • In the morning before work, when I’m actually at my sharpest (See First Hours, Best Hours) I get a cup of coffee and find blockquotes in Wikity without abstracts, and write the abstracts, and find links.
  • Ocassionally, when I want to share my previous work with someone else (as I did with Jim, when he said he was interested in Project Cybersyn), I’ll do a quick tidy and make sure that a cluster of articles is well connected to things discovered since the initial writing. Usually I’ll find a connection or two I missed, or some writing that needs to be cleaned up.


In other words, the foraging, summarizing, and linking parts of the process are often separated by weeks. The surprising thing is how right this flow feels, and how much better it works. By leaving a lot of the blockquoted observations unsummarized and unlinked, I always have interesting work to do in the morning which (most mornings) helps keep me off Twitter. Even more importantly, this spaced exposure helps me remember finds better — it’s a sort of naturally occurring spaced retrieval.

This isn’t earth-shattering, of course, but it was interesting to me. It’s the essence of the Garden approach to media, I think.

2 thoughts on “Slow-Writing with Wikity

  1. Darn, my dumb phone ate a half composed comment.

    First of all I can see from your work how well it works more fluidly than bookmarking (you are working at the idea /concept unit not the URL unit).

    My likely unquantifiable question is at what point it goes from a discipline/ chore to being productive/ useful. Is it when you have enough cards to become ting ideas? When it triggers something done in another space? When you feel wrong not doing it?

    I’m trying to figure my own hurdle to get into that flow. Maybe I can be a test case.

    • Yeah, this is the question. And I’m not really sure of the answer. I’m not even sure if that initial “chore” barrier is avoidable or not. It certainly is true that having more cards in there helps. I also think if your doing this and bookmarking too that it might not work — for me it has replaced both bookmarking and highlighting.

      My hoped for end result is actually that bookmarking, annotaton, and highlighting systems move in this direction. Until then, it’s hard to root a habit in occupied soil. I’ll continue to build maintain and support this in the meantime, but the best outcome would be Pinboard or Hypothesis adopts some wiki principles.

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