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On this patch of land … (or: Organic growth still requires intervention)

June 12, 2011

I spent the majority of the day working on my garden.  And yes, for my area (and for many) it is a little late to be planting — the truth is, another power did the “planting” for me this year, for the most part, but I think we will hold that bit for later.

Working in my garden involves the following:

  • Clearing weeds.
  • Clearing old plants from previous planting seasons (such as winter/spring)
  • Amending soil (organic compost)
  • Deciding which volunteer plants stay, and which volunteers go
  • Planning where everything that is left will go this year
  • Planting, if possible ( *hopefully tomorrow 🙂 )

  I suppose that this can be considered a pretty mundane task by many, but to me, it is a spiritual process.  You see, natural (organic) growth still requires a lot of intervention if something useful is to remain.   Consider the following:

  • You can start all the seedlings (indoors or direct sow) all you want, sometimes you get nothing, and sometimes you get too much of one type.
  • You can plant the seedlings in the “best of all” places/conditions {at least, as far as at the beginning of the season} and still wind up with nothing to show for it.
  • Sometimes, the garden surprises you in unintended ways
    • Sometimes this is in good ways ..
    • ..sometimes this is in bad ways.
  • Sometimes, outside forces take decisions out of your hands, and leave you with the “best of the worst”

Nevertheless, gardening is an endeavor that I have a passion for.   Sometimes I do not have time for it, but I certainly hold the passion.  It is similar to how I feel about the internet.  And while it is not the first time I have thought it, today, a conceit (extended metaphor) came to me that I thought could focus my thought on the internet.  It is not a fully thought out idea, so it may seem a bit odd at first.

The internet is facing my organic gardener’s conundrum: The internet is my garden, year 4.

First year gardens can be tough, but sometimes, they can surprise.  My first garden upon purchasing the house we live in now was an amazing success — amidst a drought, no less!  And to a certain degree, I can credit Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening.  Latter year gardens are where you truly test your steel, so to speak.  That is where the problems of recurring (plant specific) pests, and recurring (not specific, and equally as annoying) pests, differing conditions, etc … come to just wreck havoc.  Weeds take root, and they seem to not go away, no matter what you do.  The weather won’t cooperate, and life intervenes to make it so that you have less time than you need to tend your ever-expanding garden.  It seems that everything you learned year one is irrelevant.  And it also seems that things are out of your control.

True.  There are factors that are out of your control.  There are inevitable changes that come to most places once they have been around a little longer.  Grown up,  Matured.

The matured garden of the internet faces the following:

  • Weeds.  These are the bottom-feeders, and the companies that, once they take hold, will be used to strangle creativity from the internet.   These can be companies that limit access to the internet itself, or companies that, once centralizing the control of information, can be used (wittingly, or unwittingly) as a choke point for the internet.
  • Pests.  Spammers and mal-ware come to mind quickly, javascript pop-ups… keystroke interceptors, and downright theft.
  • Weather.  Uneven access to the internet means uneven flow of ideas to the WWW.
  • Outside forces.  Be these forces akin to Monsanto’s poisoning of nearby farmers’ crops with their genetically mutated frankenveggies’ genetic material (the greater and greater influence of the content and structure of the web by commerce, not necessarily better standards emerging, overall, as a result.) … or the “utility computing” paradigm then becoming a way for governments to apply greater pressure to the big Cloud players (and therefore exert greater control over the internet itself) . {Lessig’s Code and Free Culture form a backdrop for this thought.}

It is not a perfect metaphor, but I can say that, just as there are more weeds in year four garden than year one garden, there are definitely more of the above in decade three internet vs. decade one internet.

The matured garden requires a mature gardener.  Some of these forces are inevitable, but some can be planned for, and dealt with, if you realize that the threats are real, and take action.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Carol permalink
    June 12, 2011 2:37 pm

    I think it is a great analogy – there are probably many you can make, but it’s always best to write about what you really intimately know – hence – Gardening visa vie/ The Internet….. Observing and analyzing are one thing – solutions not always so easy.

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