Roam Research Reading Group
My impressions of day one and Intro of Sönke Ahrens' book
Also available as a podcast at https://anchor.fm/dan-allosso/episodes/Roam-Reading-Group-86-eltkkh
The formatting of this post comes from Roam Research. The bullets and double-brackets are part of the Roam logic.
I attended day one of the Roam Research-sponsored reading group devoted to discussing [[Sönke Ahrens]] and his book. The author was actually present on the Zoom call for a while, which was very cool.
I’ve already been reading his book, and I’m not sure he told me anything yet in the Zoom that I didn’t already know from reading and watching other interviews he has done recently. I think there will be much more opportunity to find out interesting information when we’ve read and can ask him questions that maybe extend his argument or probe its implications.The more interesting thing was meeting some other folks who are using Roam.
These “Roamans” as they call themselves are an interesting bunch. About 1,800 joined the group and over 200 were in the Zoom call, which was remarkable. Many were elsewhere in the world (the Roam people were apparently on the West Coast and in Rome, a little life-pun there?), staying up to the wee hours to join. I took a transcript of the thing which I can read through. There were a lot of tips on using the app.
A big element of this, for the Roamans, is testing the social element of Roam by participating in a social “graph” that everybody will be contributing their thoughts into. I should probably put this into it.
The convention of putting everything in threads in the Daily Notes under your own name is a good idea. It will test/prove the power of the Daily Note as a frictionless place to put everything and then let the info find its own home via both linked and I linked references and searches. I’m looking forward to checking out the things others write about this reading and this experience.
Another of the things that was interesting was that when I asked if people had used Hypothes.is, there was a fairly positive response in the Zoom chat. Hypo is another social annotation tool. so it’ll be interesting to see how people use it. If there’s a transcript of the chat, I’ll be able to take down the names of the folks who responded and back-trace them on Hypo.
I just dipped into the public graph and asked a couple of questions. One was:
Are people actually going to block-quote big hunks of [[Sönke Ahrens]]’s words into the graph? Isn’t this a bit redundant and, more generally, sort-of against the spirit of paraphrasing rather than quoting? I’m still evolving my thinking (been using the app for three weeks) about how I’m using [[Roam Research]] in my research ecosystem of apps. Was thinking I might try to make it my [[Slipbox]] rather than a depository for notes, which I might continue keeping in MarginNote3 and Evernote and then migrate here as slightly more digested paraphrases. Still thinking about it, though.
I also answered a chat question where someone was looking for educators. The person who asked the question was from India. If there are more responses maybe we’ll get a side-thread going, although a meetup might be difficult due to time one issues.
Also asked: I’m curious also how [[Roam Research]] fits into an ecosystem of research, note-taking, and writing apps for other people? I’m about 3 weeks into my exploration of this app. Have been using [[Hypothes.is]] for social annotation myself and with my students. [[Zotero]] for research. I’ve been agnostic with students on apps (some still use paper cards pretty effectively). Thinking for my own purposes of using this app in combination with some others rather than as the place I jam everything.
The block-quote feature of the app looks like it’s going to be explored in great detail in the coming weeks. That’s good — I’m very curious what people use it for in developing zettel-like ideas.
I’m looking forward to dipping into the graph a bit each day and seeing it evolve. I imagine I’ll have to restrain myself from wandering around in it too much like a very cool new social media site. Lots to do, but hopefully this can be something that produces ideas I can use in my work, and techniques to work more efficiently and effectively.
Summary: I was very impressed with the kickoff, which struck me like a model for a really cool new form of virtual conference. It certainly seemed to me that it had the elements of an event like OEGlobal (which I went to in Milan but did not plan to go to in Taipei this November), with people from everywhere, an interesting keynote talk, and a lot of enthusiasm and energy around sharing ideas.
So here are my notes on the Introduction to [[Sönke Ahrens]]
He makes the points that writing begins long before the author sits down to a blank screen or empty page, and that most of the books on the topic tend to forget that. He may be positioning the competition in a slightly more negative light than it deserves, but I’ll grant that most of the advice undergraduates and wannabe writers get tends to begin with that notion of the panic caused by the blank page.
I agree that a set of “smart and interconnected notes” is the solution to this problem. That has always been my experience. My father’s first chapter in his original “Short Handbook” that he wrote for students at UC Davis was about reading and taking notes. We’ve continues with that focus in the update and I’ll be adding “zettel” ideas to that in the next version I’m working on now.
I think the bigger insight here is that writing is thinking. It’s the medium that we think in rather than the product of thought that happens internally and only comes out once it is thoroughly processed into a product that’s ready for prime time.
I also like the way he deflates the idea that writing “has to be hard” and has to take discipline. Somebody else (I don’t remember who at the moment — maybe they got it here?) has also been saying it doesn’t take a lot of willpower to do something you love. I also like the way he subtly crushes the idea that good writing is a gift of the muses or an expression of genius talent. It’s preparation and practice.