About a year ago I started experimenting with the idea of a daily journal. From someone within the Roam community, I heard about the concept of Morning Pages, which is a tool for creative writers to build a muscle for generating ideas. Author Julia Cameron defined it in her book The Artist’s Way:
Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages—they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about...
If a note is an idea, we want to make the idea as atomic as possible, so we can find and stitch them together into an interconnected web of ideas. We want composable building blocks.
Composability helps us stack, mix, and repurpose ideas. To correlate them and find the relationships between them. Prose is an excellent medium for consumption, for diving deep on a particular topic. But with a prose format for documenting ideas (through notes), it’s harder to relate shared ideas across domains. Prose makes ideas easy to expand on and consume, but difficult to decompose into reusable parts....
For years Todoist was my tool of choice for task management. When Roam came on the scene for me earlier this year, I’d seen pretty compelling methods from the #roamcult for how to manage todos inside of Roam with its TODO feature. It was an intriguing idea: such a fast and simple way to capture things without leaving the current frame.
But it took me a while to go all-in on Roam for tasks. Todoist was so embedded in my muscle memory, especially with its accessible web and cross-platform...
I just finished publishing my summary and takeaways from Marty Cagan’s Inspired, his collection of ideas on building product teams. A lot of solid fundamentals there for startups, more meat on the bone in this one than most business books of its ilk.
I’m gradually working back through book highlights and building out literature notes, which I’d also one day like to get published in full somehow. I’m thinking about how I can do that while preserving some of the interlinking in my Roam graph, and publishing some of those evergreen notes, as well.
If I tracked my time spent in software tools, I’m pretty sure over the last 8 months Roam and Readwise would be top of the list.
All of my writing, note-taking, idea logs, and (increasingly) to-dos happen now in Roam. Since getting serious with it around the beginning of the quarantine, I haven’t used any other tool for writing things down.
I discovered Readwise about a year ago and it quickly entered routine use. My backlog of meticulously-kept-but-underused Kindle highlights was immediately made valuable through Readwise’s daily reviews....
One of my favorite evening activities is watching talks, interviews, and presentations on YouTube. I often take notes on these for myself, so this is an experiment in brushing up those notes and sharing them publicly.
In this 2016 talk, Joel Spolsky presented this talk called “The History of Management” as an internal training session at StackOverflow. Corporate structure dynamics are fascinating. Groups of people have developed new and more effective ways of cooperating throughout history. We started out organizing ourselves in kinship-based tribal groups with spiritual myth-making to rationalize decisions, and have...
Today Nat Eliason launched version 2 of his Effortless Output course for learning Roam.
This time around he’s doing an interesting thing with live courses and students selecting a capstone project. Adding something that goes beyond the typical online video self-paced learning style of most tutorials is fascinating.
This is a course about creating something new, not just how to use Roam. Together we’ll pick an area you’re interested in to explore as you develop your skills with Roam, and a final product you want to create with your newfound abilities.
The Roam ecosystem is rapidly expanding these days. It’s on its way to becoming platform beyond personal knowledge management — an operating system for ideas, thinking, knowledge synthesis, and writing.
Ramses Oudt and Francis Miller (creator of RoamBrain) put together a new learning newsletter with lessons on how to get the most out of Roam and its surrounding orbit of tools and add-ons.
Roam Research already has a deep community of users coalescing around it, building extensions, custom styles, and poking at the edges of how it could be extended. In this post, David Crandall outlines some possibilities of what could be in Roam’s future, breaking it out into various ideas at the presentation, service, and database layers. His diagram does a great job articulating what else could be possible with an open Roam API.
Jumping off from my Friday post on literature notes, I’ve taken the first step here in what will hopefully become something more meaningful over time.
I just finished up filtering back through all my highlights and notes on Matt Ridley’s How Innovation Works over the weekend. Part of what this process helped me figure out is a standard model for organizing literature notes by section, so if I publish the complete notes, they’ll be browsable by part and chapter of any book I have notes for.
With the last several books I’ve read, I’ve been trying to force myself to work through and document literature notes for my highlights, key ideas, and takeaways from books. Using a process (that perhaps I’ll one day go through in greater detail here) in Roam, I’ll scan through all of my highlights and write up notes on the content, editing it into my own words and phrasing. One of the goals of this process is to increase retention and recall, and as Sonke Ahrens ✦
The “digital garden” concept is gaining in popularity. I’ve seen a dozen of them recently, with groups like the Roam community taking to publishing their own open notebooks.
Maggie Appleton (an awesome, prolific member of the #roamcult) created this small library of resources for creating your own garden, along with several examples of others in the community. I still have the idea in my backlog of side projects to look at spinning up an open notebook like this.
In Sönke Ahrens’s book How to Take Smart Notes he describes the “zettelkasten” system (the “slip box”) developed by German sociologist Niklas Luhmann. Luhmann created the system to help himself organize notes and thoughts in a networked model rather than a structured hierarchy of folders. The zettelkasten system has a few elements to it to help model different types of notes, how and when you should write them, and how you associate ideas together.
The fundamental piece is the “permanent note,” one in which...
A neat concept demo from Dhrumil Shah showing possible enhancements for Roam Research. He calls them “Roam-I” and “Roam-E”:
Roam-I — for reusing old knowledge
Roam-E — collaboration
Most of this is user interface on top of the core technology that underpins how Roam works, but it’s great to see people so passionate about this that they’ll spend this much time prototyping ideas on products they use.
Roam Research has been making the rounds on the internet in the last couple months. I’ve written a little bit here about it, but promised this longer overview of how it’s working for me so far.
What is it?
Roam is a tool for note-taking, described as a tool for “networked thought.” With a glance on Twitter you’ll find all sorts of comparison pieces to Evernote, Google Docs, or Notion. I’ve tried all of those (Notion for quite a bit) and I find the experience of using Roam completely different.
I’m liking so far the process of manually typing notes in Roam from highlights in my books. Something about it feels more efficient and leaves me with more meaningful, succinct notes. This could come in handy, though, if I want to pull all highlights directly from Readwise (which I’m still loving, use it every day).
Tom MacWright on chess. Reduce distraction, increase concentration
Once you have concentration, you realize that there’s another layer: rigor. It’s checking the timer, checking for threats, checking for any of a litany of potential mistakes you might be about to make, a smorgasbord of straightforward opportunities you might miss. Simple rules are easy to forget when you’re feeling the rush of an advantage. But they never become less important.
Might start giving chess a try just to see how I do. Haven’t played in years, but I’m curious.