Also should note that I am writing this in Roam, which I have not really used before, so this is partly a test drive of a whole new writing and publishing toolchain. The end product will no doubt be hypertextish and/or open-notebook-ish to whatever degree seems appropriate.
Eg: In some of the pages I've included a Further reading section; unlike so these are more instructions to myself than a traditional list of citations. This convention emerged during the process of writing in part because Roam makes bidirectional linking ridiculously easy, it's not something I planned out.
The trigger for this was the first hypertext writing tool that actually made me want to use it, Roam, which did nothing all that new but managed to put the pieces together in a way that worked. Roam actually made writing a hypertext document feel natural, like there was a genuine flow between the mind and the graph.
Working in Lisp gives you a kind of feeling that is hard to describe; its almost as if abstractions take on a tactile quality; there is very little boundary between thought and its realization. Lisp is not the only computational system to have this quality but it's been that for me. Roam has some of that quality and it's not a coincidence that it is implemented in the Lisp dialect Clojure.
All this hypertext goodness is based on Logseq, a newish note-taking tool which I've recently adopted. It's similar to Roam and was started with Roam, but after a brief fling with that I've decided that I can't use it, and Logseq is the best alternative. Because these new hypertext tools are a bit deficient on publishing tools I rolled my own starting from an existing open source project.
The emergence of Roam and other interesting new hypertext writing tools.
31 Dec 2020 01:24 - 08 Jan 2022 10:04
Roam the product is pretty great, but unfortunately Roam as an organization appears to be run by insane cultists and I can no longer recommend using the product. I'm switching to Athens which is an open-source clone.
The specifics are kind of silly: they annouced with great fanfare that they would be imposing new rules on their social media platforms that banned "negativity". I was apparently too negative (I wasn't really) and got kicked off, which is not a big deal except that I don't feel like paying people who treat their customers that way, and as it happens I have other options, so toodle-oo.
And it isn't just me being treated imperiously, it's also other people who had put much more of themselves into supporting the Roam community. Which basically torpedoed all the good will they had been building for years. It's not so much that such conduct is offensive (although it is) as it is a sign of utter ineptitude, and breaks the trust required to use their product.
New rule: when people jokingly call something a cult, they aren't really joking (Roam and Berkeley Rationalism being the two examples I have on hand). https://t.co/VuZqhQuVhT
Roam is a relatively new tool for hypertext note-taking. It's pretty cool, and I'm enjoying doing this experimental project in it.
I was resistant at first, because my brain has been hardwired to Emacs for many decades, and initially Roam just seemed like a hosted version of org-mode. For awhile I was trying to use one of the Emacs-based Roam clones, but turns out it is not the same! The underlying abstraction might be the same, but the feel is entirely different. Linking in Roam seems natural in a way I never quite got to in org-mode, for instance.
So I decided to make a second attempt to use Roam and this time it took, I'm a convert now. It really feels like a great tool that is almost perfectly shaped to my brain, that is good enough to actually be be an extension of my thought processes rather than a barrier to them.
I wonder what Ted Nelson thinks of Roam. My take (as a long-ago disciple of his) is that while it's not nearly everything he dreamed of, it is a small step in the right direction at last, after the web and almost everything built on it led us astray. That is to say that it deploys technology to capture and enhance the difficult and subtle processes of real thinking, rather than trampling over them.
BUG: if you browse local files with images, and try to copy-paste an image, it should copy the image to a server, instead it makes a nonworking link to local file
SORELY MISSING FEATURE: search gives you a bunch of chunks, but no context for them, you have to make wild guesses about what to click on. Should include the page title. (I posted this request on Roam Slack)