[LFR] Letters from a Roaman - Letter XXXIV

Happy New Year Roamans,

Welcome to 2022, and my first letter of this year. I would like to wish you much happiness for the year ahead.

Thank you for all your replies and interest in my Roam review processes. Suffice to say, I'm definitely working on it and I hope I'll have something for you soon.

Let's start by catching up with the last few weeks and don't miss my exclusive reveal of Roam Book Club 7.

Around the Roaman Empire

TFT Twitter Bot

One for the more tech-oriented folk as you'll need to be a little nerdy to set it up for yourself. A Tools for Thought Twitter bot, by Adithya Balaji, which supports both Roam and Obsidian, that tweets random blocks from your notes automatically to try and engineer some serendipity.

It could be a great way for you to resurface your notes away from your desktop with a protected twitter stream.

New Roaman Way videos

Mr Prolific, RJ Nestor, has added 5 new videos to his free The Roaman Way playlist on YouTube.

Anything he produces is always worth checking out, but if you only have time to watch one, I recommend watching this one about block references and embeds to really begin to make the best use of Roam's superpower.

As a reminder, the next cohort of his AP Productivity course starts next Tuesday, if you want to build or improve a solid set of Roam-based workflows that work for you, you won’t find a better place or teacher. Check out more information on his website.

Real-life workflows

Matthew Thorgerson shared a nice Twitter thread on how he uses TODOs and tags in his product management role. The ideas and principles he uses in his workflow is highly applicable to many scenarios.

twitter profile avatar
Matthew Thogerson
Twitter Logo
December 28th 2021

TfT Performance Review

Alexander Rink of Roam CSS themes fame is undertaking a comprehensive performance review of the main TfT applications including Roam.

So far, he has shared the results of Roam, LogSeq and Obsidian. Roam stands up quite well vs LogSeq currently but there's definitely plenty of room to improve, especially when they're both compared against Obsidian.

From a technical architecture point of view, it's not surprising that Obsidian's speed far surpasses the block-based tools because it's only working with plain text files, but it would be good to see Roam and Logseq improve their speeds. It's one of the key reasons many users are switching after only a year or so of use in Roam.

Graph thinking

Ramses Oudt turned me on to this excellent video by Ryan Boyd on graph thinking. It's an excellent introduction to get a deeper understanding for how graph-based databases, like Roam, work. Ryan shares several concrete examples for how we think about the relationships between things in reality.

Roam game-film

I'm a sucker for knowledge game-film. Juan has shared another Loom video demonstrating his current workflows. We need more Roaman’s sharing short videos of their workflows to inspire and guide each other.

Do let me know if you see any in the wild as I want to put more focus on practical implementations of PKM/CKM patterns this year.

Roam Book Club Returns

Mark your calendars now. RBC returns on 23rd January 2022! Preparations are in full-swing for multiple book clubs running again in this round. Chinarut will be leading the main RBC7 centred on wellness. GTD will be running again, and possibly one with the discourse graph extension.

Want to get in first? Get signed up before it's officially announced to the rest of the world! You'll get all the launch details, and of course, you'll get my regular Book Club newsletters too.

Thinking Out Loud

Is 2022 the return of the RoamCult?

In Letter XV I talked about alternatives to the roamcult hashtag amid concerns in the community of its polarising nature and negative connotations.

In my very next letter, Letter XVI, I reported that Conor had perhaps heard our concerns about the cult connotations, and also decided to move away from the use of it too.

twitter profile avatar
Conor White-Sullivan 𐃏🇺🇸
Twitter Logo
April 4th 2021

However, no alternative was suggested, and none of the alternative options the community members mooted have really caught on in the same way that #roamcult did.

On New Years Day, Conor tweeted again:

twitter profile avatar
Conor White-Sullivan 𐃏🇺🇸
Twitter Logo
January 1st 2022

Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about this. I think I understand the sentiment, but I don't know where that leaves us. There are plenty of us who are still in the community or on its edges where it absolutely is still uncomfortable.

There’s no doubt that Roam is not the “new shiny toy” any more; many feel its lost its mojo, especially compared to many newcomers in the space and their pace of development. The reddit is pretty quiet having had its own furoré, as is the Slack community. It’s easy to assume there’s nothing much happening. The Roam team has been quiet; there is no roadmap, and promises are made but not delivered. Many of the early adopters and innovators have left.

Perhaps serendipitously, David Perell in his latest Monday Musings newsletter asked:

But what is a world without cults missing?

First, the belief in a radically different way of life. Cults are a place where people congregate to explore new ways of thinking, and the energy provided by the group makes them capable of extraordinary achievements. Second, the tight-knit experience of togetherness. As kids, we always loved feeling like we were in on a secret and cults provide the same rush of excitement for adults.

Though I’m not endorsing them, “cult” has an exclusively dirty connotation today. Maybe it’s time to change that.

My bolding: This is what exemplified the early “RoamCult” community to me, and is what Roam Book Club is without any cult connotations or need or desire to use the hashtag.

We do need a place for the fire to return. For me, one of the last vestiges of hope is the Roam Book Club.

What's next?

I choose to look on the positive side. I am invested in Roam as a tool. It is a key driver of my day, and is an essential part of how I live many aspects of my life. I have seen huge positive changes because of it.

I’m still confident that Roam will be around for a good while at least. I’m more interested in getting on with what it enables me to do. And I think we have, collectively, barely scratched the surface.

2022 should be an interesting year in this tools for thought space. I would like us to find, with the backing of Conor and the Roam team, a suitable alternative term that we can congregate around, which shows the world that Roam is moving forward positively, and take back some of the early energy.

We have a long way to go to learn how to collaborate effectively. Roam was built for this from the beginning, many others are coming at it from a single-player perspective. I suspect that we’ll see more new players and some of the currently hot applications will lose some of their lustre as people jump to the latest shiny toy. Some will be truly innovative, most will be copycats.

I hope that we will see some of the promises of Roam Research fulfilled and the vibrant community is rebuilt and reinvigorated.

What are your thoughts about the reinstatement of the #roamcult hashtag, and what are you excited to see in 2022? Hit reply and let me know. I read every one.

Finally, a new year is always a time for some new beginnings. As you may know I try to live my life with intention; I am fortunate enough to be running a growing business, have a family to spend time with, and volunteer as a Scout leader; amongst other things. Life is to be lived and spent well. Writing this newsletter, the Roam Book Club and my personal newsletter means that my other hobbies and writing ambitions have taken more of a backseat than I'd have liked.

This newsletter started as a little side experiment that exceeded all my expectations. However, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing well so I do want to know what makes it valuable to you. As I did when I created my Roam course, I didn't want to follow the herd, so I'm looking at what I can uniquely offer here as I ponder making a few changes. To that end, I'd really love to hear what you like, and what you don't. My time and attention is valuable to me, and I want to spend it wisely.

Until next time,


P.S. A huge thanks to my regular "book" sponsor Pierre, your support is really appreciated.

I also offer a few private 1-1 Roam coaching sessions if you're looking for some help and guidance to optimise your Roam workflows.

If you too enjoy my letters and would like to help contribute to the running costs or book a coaching call, you can do so via Buy Me a Coffee.

Andy Henson

I write Letters from a Roaman, curating community news and resources primarily around Roam Research, though I also include other information applicable to other tools for thought and the area in general. I also share my thoughts on a wide variety of tools for thought topics.

Read more from Andy Henson

Happy Tuesday friends, If you’ve been around the Twittersphere for the last few weeks, you may well have seen the recent splash that Tana is making, with a number of prominent (and former?) Roamans sharing their excitement as the tool comes out of its “stealth” phase and, with echoes of the early days of Roam when the gates were temporarily closed, the desire of others for the coveted invitations to try it out. By way of PSA, and to hopefully save my email inbox from further deluge, while I...

Happy Tuesday, friends, 18 months ago, I posited that the five fundamentals of Roam were: Using the Daily Note Pages Thinking in blocks Indentation Page references and tags Block references Since then, I’ve had what turned out to be a huge article sitting in my drafts which hasn’t yet seen the light of day. Over the next few LFR essay editions, I will discuss these fundamentals and explore them more thoroughly. You’ll have a solid foundation to build on when you have understood and mastered...

Happy Tuesday, friends, In honour of this being my fiftieth Letter, I thought I would break with my usual format and share 50 things about Roam Research. It’s a mix of lesser-known and secret features, tips, tricks and simply things that I like, but I’ll start with what I consider the 5 fundamentals of Roam that, once mastered, give you a solid foundation to build the rest upon. 1. The Daily Notes Page (DNP) Let’s start with the fundamentals that make Roam what it is. Used in conjunction with...