One Crucial Concept You Need to Understand About Roam Research Before You Use It

September 28, 2020

I’ll make it easy on you — pages are made up of individual blocks.

When the buzz around Roam Research started to spread on Twitter, I was intrigued. At first, I thought what set Roam apart from all other note-taking applications was the ability to use bi-directional linking.

I was very wrong — and I’m afraid other people are too.

There is No Structure, Just Bullet Points.

What truly sets Roam apart from other popular note-taking apps is that each bullet point is an atomic idea.

In apps like Evernote, OneNote, and Notion — pages hold ideas. But, there’s no way to access those ideas on an individual basis unless you copy and paste them.

With Roam, much like the human brain, each note lives on its own regardless of where it’s written in your database. The natural thing for most people to do when they set up a Roam account is to create some sort of structure. Maybe a page to hold all their notes on work, another page to hold their notes on podcasts, and still another page to hold notes on books. But doing so forces a hierarchy in Roam that’s not supposed to be there.

If you’re taking notes on a podcast and the same idea is mentioned that you read in a book from last week, you can “call back” that idea using a block reference. (Type “((“ and start writing what the idea is until you see it appear. Then press enter.) This imitates the way that our brain operates by storing information in relation to other items in our database. Not by keeping podcast notes in one section and book notes in the other.

Treat each block as its own separate page, and you’ll be connecting new ideas in no time.