Trying out Roam Research


Hey friends,

I want to share an app that I’ve been experimenting with this week – Roam Research.

Roam is a hot new note-taking app that I first heard about in late 2019. I’d tried it out a couple of times but the learning curve seemed annoying, and I recognised that the bottleneck in my personal knowledge management systems wasn’t the choice of app, but instead making the time to actually take notes and write properly. I think this is an important insight – having been into this productivity stuff for over a decade now, I’ve realised first-hand that our workflow is infinitely more important than the apps we’re using.

It’s so easy to think that this one new app is going to solve all our problems, when in reality, we need to be more disciplined to actually do the work, rather than thinking that an app is going to magically do it for us.

Having said that, apps are important. They’re important because sometimes finding the right app encourages us to actually do the work.

I noticed this when I first started using Bear. It was (and is) such a beautiful writing experience on Mac, iPhone and iPad that it encouraged me to write so much more than I did on Evernote which felt bloated and awful (although in fairness, Evernote seems to be improving as well these days).

Back when I was managing websites run on WordPress, I used to hate writing blog posts because the experience of the WordPress editor was awful. When I switched my personal website to Ghost, the experience of writing blog posts became a joy, and so I did more of it.

Equally, when I started using Notion in 2019, the experience of project and life management in the app was so joyful that it made me want to do it more.

Long story short – a well-designed app that’s a pleasure to use is important, not because of the app itself, but because it makes doing the work more fun.

That’s how I’m feeling about Roam, having used it daily for the past week. In fact, I typed out this email at work this morning, in Roam, knowing that I’d easily be able to copy/paste it into Revue (the platform that powers this newsletter) at night. But more importantly, I knew that writing it in Roam would make it a permanent addition to my Second Brainrather than just being an artefact that disappears after clicking ‘send’ on the email.

The work I’m doing in writing this therefore, will be available to my future self, and over time the value of the system will exceed the sum of its parts.

If you haven’t tried Roam, give it a go. You can make an account for free at

My internet homie Nat Eliason also has a good course about the basics of Roam*. It’s $118 but if you go through the course, you get $100 credit towards the Roam paid plan whenever they start charging for the app, so if you’re serious about developing a Personal Knowledge Management system, it’ll be worth it 🙂

Have a great week!


* Not sponsored in any way. It’s just a good course and I like Nat’s blog.

My Favourite Things this week

1 – Book

– On the recommendation from one of the nurses on my ward, I’ve started reading the Chronicles of St Mary’s series and I’m really enjoying it so far. If you’re in the market for something to read, check it out and read along with me 🙂

2 –

Free online workshop

– How to take a digital note – This 1-hour workshop on how to take a digital note was given by another internet friend Tiago Forte, who runs the excellent (but rather expensive) online course Building a Second Brain (this one’s an affiliate link this time hehe). The free workshop is a solid introduction to note-taking, including what makes a good ‘digital note’ and how to go about taking good digital notes yourself.

Quote of the Week

Money, fame and success exist on the other side of that line in the realm of external indifferents: nice to have, but outside of our jurisdiction. They may be rewarding by-products, but they will never prove gratifying if they are chased directly.

From Happy by Derren Brown. Resurfaced with Readwise.

This week’s videos

Went a bit overboard with videos this week. Sorry about that.

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