The Weekly Review

by Chris Bowler

The Roam cult

Well, that escalated quickly. I went from disinterested when I first heard about Roam from Drew Coffman, to mildly curious when I saw a lot of chatter about it, to pretty sold on the idea. I’ve been using it consistently for a little over two weeks and I can see it’s likely a better tool for creating a Zettelkasten than any other product I've explored.

But one aspect that has caught my attention is the community using the tool. It reminds me a little of the hype of Slack in its early days, or more recently, the hype surrounding Notion and Superhuman. The latter is likely the best example for one reason: it was designed targeted at a specific audience.

Superhuman is intended for one main purpose: making it easy for executives to get through their email quickly. Does that mean someone like myself can't benefit? No, I'm sure its a great email client. But dealing with email isn't a big problem for me, so I don't fit the ideal user profile.

Roam is a little like that. On the surface, it's a note taking tool that anyone could use in that capacity. But if you were looking for a similar alternative to Evernote or Bear or even Apple Notes, you might give Roam a quick look and think it's a little odd. Maybe even lacking in some ways. But that would be missing the true purpose of this tool.

Anyway, I wasn't intending to write about the app itself. Instead, it's the community that caught my attention. It's comprised of people from across a wide range of professions, but who all understand the value of connecting related thoughts. And they're quick to help you get using the tools, even quicker to publicly sing its praises. There are all kinds of videos and community sites helping you make sense of how to benefit from what this product offers.

I'm currently working my way thought Nat Eliason's Effortless Output with Roam course. That one makes the most sense, for that is exactly what Adler's syntopical reading and Luhman's Zettelkasten method are all about: output.

It's easy to get caught in the trap of tooling. Roam is different — it has functionality you can dig into, but it's work to do so. The easiest thing is to just start writing, and the value builds over time.

That's where I'm at currently. I use the Daily Notes to track my activity all day (something I did previously in Day One … and I export each day to ensure I have my notes if I decide to walk away from Roam), but have truly not jumped into it all the way.

But I can already see the connections growing.

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