A Better Place to Put My Thoughts
I’ve been using a popular new note-taking app called Roam lately. Roam’s big thing is that it makes it easy to link notes to each other as you write them, by just putting them in brackets. Like if I was writing this in the app, I would write [[Roam]]. Then this paragraph would be linked to and appear in an automatically created Roam page, along with any future reference to Roam. And clicking on Roam in this paragraph would take me to the main Roam page.
The promise of Roam, then, is to help you build connections between your notes, and at a deeper level, between your thoughts. But why? What is the benefit of that? I have to say, I haven’t actually seen many specific, tangible benefits yet, not for me. But it feels good, it feels right. I’m happily taking the extra time to annotate my notes with brackets, with the vague idea that it might benefit me somehow, someday. I could use a more polished bulleted note-taking app like Workflowy, with a better mobile app. But I keep using Roam. Strange.
Maybe it just feels good to take my ideas seriously. To place my ideas somewhere where I might stumble onto them again. To do some minimal thing to order my notes, instead of the equivalent of writing them down and throwing them away. Or, worse, letting them simply flit into and out of my attention, maybe developing into something valuable, but maybe not, depending on chance.
Maybe Roam is the sweet spot for notes. Giving notes some structure and interconnection, but in the most natural, fluid way. Though Roam feels very much like an alpha geek product right now, the general idea of making it easier to put down and organize thoughts and retrieve them really seems of general interest. What if the user experience was less intimidating and more playful? What if it was easier to see the themes in your thoughts surface, in a fun, visually striking way? It would be very interesting to see an attempt to take this idea more mainstream. Maybe it’s already mainstream ready. The app seems to have already reached more people than many would have expected.
Whichever direction it ends up going, Roam really feels like something special. There’s really something beautiful about helping people get a handle on their very thoughts. Helping people plant and tend their ideas and let them blossom. This is software at its best: helping people create.