Enter Roam Research

Roam Research is a note-taking app for networked thought founded by Conor White-Sullivan. It is as easy to use as a document but as powerful as a graph database. It is able to link all the documents written in it. I can see how I can build a personal search engine using this application. No matter what information you throw at Roam Research, it is able to organise it at the point of asking. Roam Research is an application of the Zettelkasten System. This method of indexing information for future use was devised by Niklas Luhmann. It is a great way to create a Knowledge Management System. Since my first journal entry on Roam Research, I have been figuring out how best I can use the platform. I use other Note-Taking apps such as Evernote but this is different and serves a unique purpose, as do the other applications. For that reason, I can use both applications at the time and I don’t try to compare them or find the perfect note-taking app. In fact, I use other Note-Taking Apps such as Notion and Obsidian and many more but the three mentioned here are the closest to Roam Research – a Note-Taking App for networked thought. I believe all thinking is networked but we force our thoughts to be recorded in a hierarchical order in folders and lists and retrieving that information to create new content is not always straight forward with any of these applications. I am attracted to Roam Research because it mimics the way that my brain works. It’s like my second brain. Roam Research uses Tags, Backlinks and Pages to create build a Second Brain and network my thoughts so that I can create new content. This is the first blog post that I have created using Roam Research.

Image Courtesy of Roam Research

Building a Second Brain

Building a second brain ensures that the ideas we capture on a daily basis can be retrieved to create new content. Tiago Forte has courses that teach people to build a second brain to help them become more productive. I have come across many ideas in almost 5 decades. Some of the ideas have stayed with me but others have fizzled away. I am growing my second brain using Roam Research. When I remember any idea of the keyword I just dump it into Roam Research. When I get time, I go through the ideas and expand on them. Slowly, the application finds relationships between the ideas and new ideas are created. This application gives my mind the freedom to jump from idea to idea and see linkages between them. My use of the platform has evolved and is still evolving and will continue to evolve. The lack of a rigid structure is quite appealing because I don’t have to worry about where my notes are going or how I will use them in the future. I know they will be there when I need them. The next stage of my experience with Roam Research is to see if I can use it to write a Dereck Tafuma Daily Blog. I know that I can easily write 2500 words or more a day and perhaps with the data dump here, I can be able to pull some of the information and use it to write my blog without spending a lot of time on it. I have chosen the following key terms for this blog post: Roam Research, Building a Second Brain, Tags, Backlinks and Pages, Networked Thought, and Productivity. They are all linked to the notes I have written on them. I have them all opened in the right-hand pane of Roam Research so I am getting the ideas directly from there. Each of those pages is also an unfinished piece of work which I can update or modify at any time. This is huge because it means I can continuously create new content using the information I already have and that information is easily retrievable. It is truly a second brain and it is there when I need it. The true value of a second brain is in the new content that I am now creating using the information I have collected from websites, YouTube, Podcasts etc. Consuming content for me is part of the research process. Any information that I collect must be available to create something new. Without a second brain, it is difficult to create new content unless you are simply documenting your daily life or vlogging. But if you consume content, then you need to make notes and eventually use your notes to create your own content so that others can benefit from what you have learnt. Roam Research makes it easy to build a second brain and create new material because of the bi-directional links that it creates between the information that you throw at it.

Tags, Backlinks and Pages

Roam Research uses tags, backlinks, and pages. Tags are the same as the tags that we use on other social media platforms to link content written about the words or concepts that have been used in the tag. On Instagram, you can follow tags to get content from accounts that mention the tag. The tag backlinks to instances where the term has been used. When I am writing an article, I can access the information associated with the tags that I want to write about. The plan is to document instead of creating as Gary Vaynerchuk says. If that is the case, then the blog is just a journal. And I have plenty to write in the journal. As I type, linked references begin to pop up at the bottom. Why are these important? They are important because they make it possible for me to use that information for my current article. they become evergreen content. For this article, I have used the following tags: #roamresearch, #zettelkastenlearningmethod, #secondbrain, #tags, #backlinks, #pages, #networkedthought, and #productivity. The tags backlink to every instance of the tagged word in all my notes on Roam. The pages behave exactly the same way that the tags behave. The pages have more detailed information that I have inputted already. To truly benefit from Roam, I have to write as many notes as I can. Every time I write these notes, I am making it easier for me to use them in the future. For the first time, I am writing down notes which I know I can use in the future. Even this article will come in handy when I write a future article. I use pages more than I use tags since they serve the same functional purpose.

Networked Thought

I have always had a very busy mind and I have often used various note-taking applications to record some of them. I have never found an application that could link these ideas together with the way that Roam Research is doing so. The advantage with Roam is that I don’t need to import these notes and ideas into it, I can simply start building my database from scratch. I have brought some notes into it, some articles and books that I have written in the past, some published and others still to be published. I know that now I can easily complete them and edit those that I have published for republishing. I am now linking them all together to create awesome content. My thoughts are now networked.

Productivity, Getting Things Done

Productivity means creating something that others can consume. I want to create as much content as I can. Roam is perfect for productivity because I have everything I need in one place. Prior note-taking places all the ideas I need in one accessible place. As an example, I have the word productivity in 8 different notes in Roam. I mentioned productivity under the pagesAi Writer, a writing app for books, Todoist, a to-do list, Evernote, another note-taking app, and other notes as well. This is amazing because context matters, and I can see how I have used the word repeatedly as appropriate.


Roam Research is perfect for Building a Second Brain and then using Tags, Backlinks and Pages to network my thoughts and improve on Productivity to create new content. As I said, my use of Roam is still evolving and will always evolve as I seek to improve on note-taking and content creation. I want to avoid consuming content without taking notes and creating more content.

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