One of the things I have come to feel is increasingly important, is to organize some sort of personal knowledge management. I have a number of different tools that I have been playing around with including Notion and Bear. The challenge is that I have essentially three things I want to solve for my in my workflow – one is writing, I want a dedicated writing tool and there design has turned out to be surprisingly important. I have ended up with Bear as the best and most interesting alternative for writing texts intended for consumption by others. The second thing is storage — a place where I can store texts, ideas, presentations, information – and this is where Notion seemed very tempting and secure. But there is something about Notion that I cannot quite put my finger on that makes it a hard tool for me to work with. I can make pages and throw up documents and…but the feeling is that I have a very large attic where I can store things, but where they essentially do not compound.
Enter Roam. A wonderfully quirky and interesting tool that allows you to build knowledge graphs. It is experimental – probably less secure – and forces you think about the knowledge graph you want to create and how to navigate within it, but as you start to learn how to do that it is surprisingly generative. It builds structures and let’s you explore them – some of the structures are not just storage, but devices of discovery as well. It is really interesting.
And another thing – it is oriented around today. This may be the most genius move in all of the Roam conceptual framework. I open my graph, and then just start a new day, start logging things, reminding myself, thinking things through — Roam is a perfect tool for thought writing or meta-cognition – the kind of writing you do to find out what you think and to generate ideas, the kind of writing that is really a kind of dialogue with yourself.
So currently I am thinking Notion for pure storage of things I need to have as resources, Bear for writing and Roam for project management, thinking and exploration. It is a pain not to be able to do it all in one single tool, but this is where I am now – I will write an update later and see how this goes.
1 thought on “Roam – some thoughts”
Hi Nicklas, I found your blog anteckningarna.org about a year ago and have been reading your texts with great pleasure ever since. As a PhD student I am struggling a lot with finding a sustainable knowledge management system myself so I can very much relate to what you write in this post. Now, I don’t know if you are aware but there is an interesting Emacs adaptation of Roam called [org-roam](https://github.com/org-roam/org-roam) which has been further developed into a tool called [org-roam-bibtex](https://github.com/org-roam/org-roam-bibtex). [Here](https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Wy9WvF5gWYg&feature=youtu.be) is a video that shows what it is possible to do with the tool. It does not maybe fulfill all your needs and I have no idea about your position in relation to the Church of Emacs.
I can also recommend you to check out the site Zettelkasten.de for interesting discussions on knowledge management linked to the sociologist Niklas Luhmann’s ideas and working methods. Keep up the good work and stay healthy!