I continue to hear a lot of positive feedback about Roam Research. And although I'm hesitant to embrace new web apps that are VC funded, the number of people saying good things about this one has me intrigued (but it would have to be a life-changing tool to get me to invest my time and energy in a funded team that is not charging for their product).
Here are a few related items:
- Roam: Why I Love It and How I Use It by Nat Eliason
- How to Take Smart Notes: A Step-by-Step Guide also by Nat
- What's to great about Roam Research also by Nat (video)
- How to Take Smart Notes | Zettelkasten Method in Roam Research by Shu Omi (video)
- Roam research by Drew Coffman … who made some lovely illustrations to go with his post
Nat covers a few points that are worth highlighting:
Each note has relationships to other notes, but no note lives inside another note or notebook. All of the information is fluid in the sense that you flow between notes based on their relationships, not because they’re all in the same folder or hierarchy.
This also highlights a big difference between Roam and other note taking tools: tags are both everything and nothing. Every page is a tag, and every tag is a page. Whether you do a [Page Link] or a #Hashtag Link is purely a stylistic choice. I use [Page Links] when it’s inline, and #Hashtag Links when they’re out of context, but you can use them however you want.
By structuring information in this way, Roam makes it super easy to move laterally across your information, while retaining vertical references. The book Emergency by Neil Strauss can live in my Book Notes page, my Prepping page, and my Neil Strauss page, without having to be moved.
And Drew is replacing three types of tools with Roam:
So Roam has quickly replaced any note-taking apps I’ve been using and given me an increased drive to write — but there’s something else that Roam seamlessly replaced: My task manager. One of my greatest issues with task management apps has been the same problem I’ve had with note-taking apps in the past — that I don’t want to have to deal with the mental weight of figuring out where my tasks are supposed to live. I will open a task manager to write something down, get distracted by the urgent tasks that are left unchecked, and immediately get frazzled — or I will meticulously build sections into my task manager, add tasks to each, and then forget about them as they become buried too deep in the app’s hierarchy of folders and buckets to be easily acted on.
I'm not sure I'd want to go so far, but the gap between your tasks and your reference information is a major pain with most of today's tools. I wrote about this when Things 3 came out:
In all the services I’ve used over the years, there has been a gap between managing the actual tasks and the information that is required to work on those tasks. There always needed to be a secondary piece of software required. That might be apps like Yojimbo or Evernote or Ulysses, or it might be parts of the macOS (files/folders in Finder).
Having all you need in one place would be powerful.