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Tools for Thought: Roam Research

If you think of creativity as connecting distant ideas, then Roam supercharges the process by making the connections easily searchable.

Shamay Agaron
Shamay Agaron
. 2 min read

Roam Research is a tool that has profoundly influenced the way I think. Honestly, I’ve been really excited to share since I first started using it in October, but I wanted to wait until it became more mainstream so that people would be more likely to adopt it.

Roam is a note-taking app that’s designed to work more like your brain naturally does. In your brain, there are neuronal connections between related concepts. For example, the concept of a dog might be linked to bark, pet, friend, animal, cat (see below).

Similarly, Roam stores all your notes in a graphical structure behind the scenes. Each page is a node in the graph that links to many other pages.

Unlike the one-directional links you’re used to on the internet, these links are bi-directional. In other words, each page links back to all the pages that are linked to it. This makes it easy to traverse your graph of ideas, much like your brain operates.

How is Roam different than other note-taking apps, like Evernote? There is no friction to starting to use Roam - since there’s no structure, you can start anywhere and build from bottom-up. By comparison, other apps force you to define a rigid structure of folders or notebooks up-front. This is problematic because (1) a note can only live in one notebook even if it relates to two areas and (2) your interests may change over time and you’ll have to restructure your notebooks.

Roam is built around making it easy to draw connections between ideas. Unlike other note-taking apps, Roam makes it extremely easy to spin up new pages and make connections between things in stride.

This frictionless interface has conditioned me to always be thinking about how an idea relates to other ideas I’ve noted. If you think of creativity as connecting distant ideas, then Roam supercharges the process by making the connections easily searchable.

Here are a few resources to learn more about Roam and it’s use cases:

short-form