# Roam

24 Dec 2020 07:08 - 13 Jun 2021 11:50

• 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.
• ## Good points

• Very responsive UI, key features like backlinks and outlining feel ultra-natural. This turns out to be really important in a writing tool
• A growing community of users and customizers and add-on tools.
• Enough like Emacs and org-mode that there is no real learning barrier to doing basic stuff.
• Written in Clojure, which shouldn't matter but indicates the developers have good aesthetics. This analogy holds in various interesting ways:
• Roam : Emacs :: Clojure : Common Lisp

• See NextRoam
• No real system for publishing or separating out personal notes from more finished text intended for the public (I had to make my own static-roam)
• It feels weird to put personal stuff in online document. Or at least, different from writing on a local file. The fact that Roam doesn't seem to take security very seriously adds to that.
• Doesn't support all my little idiosyncratic Emacs customizations and hacks that I've accumulated over the years.
• Closed source, although highly customizable.
• A certain cultish aura. This may be deserved! And hell, I'm joining the cult it looks like. But something about it bugs me.
• 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

##### Map
from Tufte: Seeing with Fresh Eyes
• Content-respecting typography: although Tufte means somewhat more, 80% of what he suggests is supported and encouraged by the outline-bullet organization of Roam
from Review: A Map That Reflects the Territory
• 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.
from Rationalism
• OK, this was really just an experiment to see if I could make.a 2x2 table in Roam and yes, I could and it was pretty easy!
from static-roam
from Lisp
• 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.
from Codex OS
• Codex OS is a very slick information management system, currently in development. It's like Roam crossed with a semantic graph.
from Politics and Pragmatism in Scientific Ontology Construction
• One sign of hope is that the Roam-led burst of writing tools is starting to merge with semantic-representation. Codex OS is a very interesting project in this space.
from Ted Nelson
• This was true when I wrote it but I think Roam is a big step in the right direction.
from influence
• A Roam experiment. Trying to make a page of my key influences, using only backlinks.