Bryan Lee

My Digital Garden

I like to write and I want to do it without being held back by the conventional definition of blogging. The conventional definition of blogging has been ingrained too deeply in me — long form thought leadership articles optimized perfectly for SEO and distributed across Medium and other social media platform to help build personal branding.

I want to write without giving two fishes about how many people are reading it. Reading Tom Critchlow's Digital Garden about "less performative blogging" really resonated with me. My digital garden is where I do this, documenting down my notes on the things I learn or am interested in. It's also publicly open for anyone that chances upon it and finds it useful.


My full digital garden expands beyond this public wiki. It is how I organize all my online information. There are three level of notes, going in increasing level of permanence.

Scratch buffer — A concept I took from Emacs and other IDEs. All daily notes, drafts, and temporary bits and pieces of info go into one single file. This is currently done in Bear App.

Working notes — Some notes in the scratch buffer eventually get split off into individual ones. Working notes are often in raw form and may contain private or proprietary information not ready to be shared publicly. It's currently a mixture of some work / project related notes, excerpts taken from articles and books, and my own notes and takes on the subject. Managed in Obsidian.

Public wiki — Also managed with Obsidian. This is integrated into my personal website. I document down my learnings after reading and thoroughly digesting. My aim is to read less but read deeper and learn more. I am currently working to tidy my working notes and move the relevant ones over to here. I come back often when I need to refer to certain information.


Bear App

This is my daily go-to note taking application. It contains the scratch buffer and working notes. I really love Bear's user interface. It's really beautiful, and the WYSIWYM note-taking experience is exceptional. However, the search is pretty lacking and I don't like that backups are done with iCloud. In theory, the notes in Bear can be exported into markdown files, but it's very likely a good amount of editing is needed to make it compatible with file-based apps.


For my permanent notes, a file-based system is a non-negotiable requirement. Note taking software come and go, and a markdown, file-based system makes it easy to port my notes over to a new software. I avoid apps like Notion and Evernote (and Bear) for this reason. I have tried other similar apps like Zettlr and Emacs but I have stuck around most with Obsidian for its ease of use and beautiful interface.