Roam Research for thinking and knowledge management

(I made this a wiki page so anyone can add resources, or just reply, as you see fit.)

Continuing the discussion from Apps for collecting . . . STUFF Devon Think, Evernote, Pocket:

Thanks to @Robertson.historian, and others for discussion. It seems like RR deserves its own thread.

There is a fantastic write up about Roam, and the paradigms used (Daily Notes, Graph Overviews, Shortcuts, Bidirectional Links, etc.) on Reddit (link below). It includes several note taking concepts and a system I haven’t heard of before, but that sound very interesting.

Some mentions:

  • Building a Second Brain (BASB), a course ($$$) by Tiago Forte
  • PARA top-level organization (Projects, Areas, Resources, Archives)
  • Progressive Summarization
  • Evernote: using with, migrating from
  • Zettelkasten
  • Structureless-Structure

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Roam.
I was going all in on Tinderbox, but its WikiLinks feature is failing me and I’m losing interest in working around its shortcomings (again).

6 Likes

Thanks for the redirect. That reddit post is a great example of some use cases. And frankly that is my main use case. I will present a few of my own workflows and how I implement a zettlekasten soon.

2 Likes

I’m jumping into Roam Research with both feet, and I’m really loving it. works fine on iPad and Mac (or anywhere with a regular web browser), and mostly ok on iPhone.

it’s definitely a different paradigm from anything else I’ve used.

1 Like

It is by far the closest software to zettlekasten, but taken to another level since it is digital. There are so many hidden/unfinished feature that no other notes app has it’s ridiculous.

I will post my own workflow soon (I am prepping for the next semester at the moment so no time yet). But it is increasingly for drafting and mapping your ideas.

3 Likes

Thanks for posting this reddit thread. I have started using Roam in the last week and I’m quite impressed by it. Unlike many others, I have always liked Evernote and have been since day one. I am always skeptical of apps claiming to be better, as they usually fall short for me in some way. Evernote is far from perfect though, so I continue to explore new options.

I am super impressed with Roam’s ability to make connections between notes. Finding and storing notes in a folder has always been preferable to me than tagging, but links between notes of similar content can easily be missed.

Evernote’s search method has always been a huge drawback for me, whereas Roam is very simple. I’m looking forward to digging deeper and would love to hear from others using this app.

2 Likes

Welcome @paulcg.
Yes, Roam makes it remarkably easy to create notes, link, etc. They actually got customers to pay them while they developed it.

Cons: I’m a little concerned that it’s free. A friend pointed out White-Sullivan’s braggadocio too.

But: There’s also an org-roam mode for emacs.

Let’s hope other developers are inspired by its simplicity.

1 Like

Thanks @JohnAtl. re: Cons, I saw a video or post where Conor said it would be $14/month once out of beta. That made me feel better and worse about it – $14 is quite a bit… and I did notice the braggadocio. Confidence is great, and he really seems to “get” the elements of a great note-taking app, but I hope it’s not “over-confidence”. Time will tell. Hopefully nvUltra will be released while we’re all still alive and that may be better solution.

Absolutely!

1 Like

White-Sullivan has since said that they expect to charge $30 per month.

vaporware vā′pər-wâr″

  • n.
    See nvUltra.

:slightly_smiling_face:

3 Likes

The big risk with Roam in its current state is that it’s an in-flight development prototype, not a product. The feature set is liquid, the back-end service is not fully robust and there’s no (publicly) defined path the a production-quality service. And yet, pretty much everywhere I look, there’s someone raving about how good a solution it is.

2-3 weeks ago, a number of users lost substantial amounts of work because the Roam backend couldn’t keep up with the load and synchronisation failed. That’s lost data when surely the absolute sine qua non of any services is that “we won’t lose your data”.

And the Roam team consists of 2 people right now - with a bunch of enthusiasts offering to pitch in.

None of these needs to stop us from using it (it’s not stopping me), but I do think we child be careful about comparing Conor’s delightful squalling baby child to prdocyts and services that are established and are underpinned by proper support infrastructures.

I know I’m coming over like the proverbial wet blanket, but I do think there’s a degree of irresponsibility on the part of the Roam team and naivety on the part of many of the users that might bite back hard some time soon.

1 Like

Not really. It’s in beta – sits in my dock now. Solid; minimalist; workable; not flashy; a bit of a snore.

1 Like

Damn! If it’s not shiny and new and full of options and features, I won’t have an excuse to spend ages playing with it

2 Likes

Well, you are @ThatGuy :slightly_smiling_face:
You’re absolutely right. I export to .json and .md just about every time I add something. I do think Roam should be more upfront about the (essentially) alpha status.

1 Like

Well, hopefully it won’t go the way of BitWriter.

In the meantime, The Archive is nice, and supports WikiLinks.
Someone (Will) came up with a Keyboard Maestro shortcut to do lookup for notes, type [[ and a list of notes is presented.

1 Like

Tinderbox does that. Not well, but it tries.

Bear does that. Quite well.

Yep, lost lots of time going down that road.

1 Like

Nice! I haven’t looked at it since before October. Thanks!

1 Like

A few short comments:

  • it is generally understood that Roam will be pricey - 30$/mo, but with discounts for select groups - researchers/academics (:wink:).
  • It bill’s its bi-directional linking as its key feature, and it is, but it has MANY features under the hood that are being deployed quickly: mindmaps, Kanban, Tables, google sheets-like calculations, etc.
  • it’s best understood to be a merging of dynalist and Notion, with obvious major features of each missing, but remains an apt comparison. In other words, an “outliner” (dynalist) based on content “blocks” (Notion). With formulas and code you can mix-and-match any block with in essence any other blocks for representations of that data in a single page - which can thereby be edited/modified within that single page.
  • being able to have the graphical view of connections of the whole database and any single note too is quite powerful.

If you were to dig into users databases as has been shared in the slack channel and in other areas, there are some amazing examples of data manipulation and aggregation that could only be rivaled by perhaps Org-Mode or a truly maticulous The Archive zettelkasten.

Edit: perhaps not a coincidence, once Keep Productive did two videos about Roam, the next week Roam struggled to keep up with the influx of users. It is a beta, and they have been sitting on funding for a while, so it makes sense to not ramp up until you have to in the server side.

3 Likes

Roam doesn’t have a native macOS or iOS app yet, does it?

No - it’s a web app only. On the Mac, you can fake a local ap with something like Unite, but all that does is wrap a Mac windows round it. Convenient for working outside your browser, but not local.

1 Like