Brandon Toner: Healthcare, Note-taking Philosophy, Schooling with Roam

October 14, 2020 Norman Chella Season 1 Episode 14
Brandon Toner: Healthcare, Note-taking Philosophy, Schooling with Roam
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we talk with Brandon Toner, a pharmacist based in Nova Scotia, Canada. He's known from his goal to build a habit of expression through a reset on Twitter. This is a broad episode ranging from healthcare to school, note-taking philosophies and the search for powerful conversations.

We talked about:

  • Doing a hard reset on Twitter
  • Information management in pharmacy, healthcare and possibilities with Roam Research
  • Intricacies in healthcare and what information we must consider
  • Brandon's workflow in the field of learning healthcare
  • The philosophy of note-taking and its connection to identity, expression and more
  • How Roam can help you build your own worldview



  • 1:50 Brandon's criteria for Twitter conversations
  • 3:34 Hard reset on Twitter and connecting with people an dideas
  • 5:53 The Dark times, and the tools that never felt quite right
  • 8:01 Brandon's future version of himself
  • 9:40 What Brandon does: Pharmacy in Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 11:24 Information in healthcare and pharmacy
  • 14:59 Building dynamic reference material for healthcare
  • 16:48 "When I consume knowledge, I want it to become a part of me"
  • 18:05 The responsibilities of a clinical expert
  • 19:54 Brandon's thoughts on schooling with Roam
  • 22:07 Roam dependence and impact on our systems and routines
  • 27:58 The scaffolding for a network of information
  • 29:28 What is structure? Note-taking as a philosophy
  • 33:42 How do we balance between chaos and order?
  • 34:52 Brandon's workflow in bringing order to chaos
  • 40:39 "You can't skip that dance" and Go Boards
  • 43:35 Putting down other tools, and the burden of freedom
  • 48:14 What happens in the true believer calls? and how Brandon joined Roam
  • 54:35 Cult vs. culture, and Conor thinking out loud in calls
  • 59:35 The revolution of maintaining societal knowledge
  • 1:07:17 Exploring Roam's diversity of users
  • 1:09:56 Celebrating life and our loved ones
  • 1:14:51 Roam baked in productivity culture
  • 1:18:41 The low floor, high ceiling, and Roam possibilities
  • 1:21:34 [[How would you describe Roam to someone who hasn't started using it?]]
  • 1:30:20 [[What does Roam mean to you?]]


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in this episode, we talk with Brandon toner, who is from the East coast of Canada, Cape Breton, specifically, and is trained as a pharmacist, which is a pretty interesting field that we will deep dive into later on in the episode. But. We know Brendan more from his goal to build a habit of expression coming from a reset on using Twitter. Brandon is on a mission to connect with tons of people. Have amazing conversations and purely just deepen his understanding of the world around him through the usage of Roam Research. So we talk about a variety of things from the philosophy of Rome, defining structure notes. What goes in, what comes out. Brandon's workflow and the field of pharmacy and prescribing medicine to patients. The connection between identity expression, authenticity, and the journey in building a system for yourself in terms of note taking through Rome, really just a range of topics and ideas that I'm finding it very hard to make this intro Because like Roam, our conversations are heavily interconnected. So without further ado, let's enjoy this wild ride and dive into my chat with Brandon toner. I know that you've been doing a lot of calls, like one on one calls with people who are interesting on, you know, interesting in many different ways, whether it be by field or by interest, but. How do you normally reach out to them or what's your criteria of wanting to look at this person's Twitter profile and say, I want to talk to this person to one on one in a zoom call. What's your take on that? It's a good question. I think it happens organically for the most part. Um, the, the calls that I've fallen into have been, uh, people with accounts that will have engaged with questions that I have, or I'll be commenting on their stuff. And we'll fall into this interesting conversation. And then it'll kind of come to a moment where it's like, Hey, do you want to just like, hop on a call and talk about this a little bit, or what you were talking about was really interesting and let's, uh, let's go a little deeper. Oh, okay. So it was more about just one point and then you get on the zoom call and you're like, let's just touch on this as much as possible. And then from there to accompany the conversation will naturally diverse to more about who they are, what they think about and anything else that interests them. Oh, okay. I hadn't even taken a call with somebody, um, that I'd met on Twitter or the internet until like a month ago. Um, and then that it almost had a bit of like a, start here and then this person knows that person, that person knows this person and then kind of goes, and you realize that there's this small corner of the internet where people, kind of inter follow each other a little bit. Um, so you get to know, um, the relationships and the dynamics a little bit, and, uh, that allows you to make those references and to make those connections. And it becomes the same as referencing in real life, but just online. It feels like you're making your own pseudo, conversational roam graph, except it's of conversations across Twitter accounts. It makes it pretty fascinating because I'm seeing that very similarly, not only within #roamcult, but basically interactions on Twitter. So being able to harness that or. take advantage of that feature for, you know, why you're on Twitter in the first place, which is to connect with those who you really want to resonate with in terms of conversation, in terms of interests or whatever. So here's a question for you. I know that you did a reset on Twitter. Could you tell me why? Yeah, that's a, that's a great question. The reason why I did that Twitter reset was that it felt a little bit odd to take my existing followers and, and take them along this journey through Roam and all of the stuff that I'm doing with personal management, uh, culture's online. Um, so I decided to just, you know, start from scratch and allow people to opt into that experience. rather than me. Automatically taking them through that journey. So I wasn't even sure that the accounts that I was following, I wasn't sure who was calling me. Um, and I really resurrected the Twitter account in order to engage with the Roam community. So that was the whole purpose was getting back online and kind of figuring out this information management culture. And that kind of started around when the quarantine regulations with COVID hit in Nova Scotia here a little bit harder. And I made a decision on like day one or two of the quarantine. And I said, okay, I can see myself going down a bit of an internet rabbit hole here, where I spent so much time on Facebook and I'm just not energized by those engagements in those platforms. So I decided, okay, what do I want to do then? And identified Twitter as something that's. Some people seem to get, like there was, there's a group of people that are really passionate about Twitter for learning and connecting with people and ideas. And I decided I wanted to figure that out. So I followed a couple accounts for awhile. And then I decided that if I was really going to integrate with the community, I had to be comfortable with expressing myself online to take my existing group of people that followed me. Through that journey of me just diving deep into this Roam culture, interested in that journey. And they can always follow me, but for me to kind of unconsensually take them along that journey without them opting in, it felt a little bit strange. So it was, it was an authenticity and expression move for me. All right. Well, this is going to be interesting because you. Despite, maybe confusing current followers and doing a hand reset and then doing this rabbit hole with intent of trying to spiral down into this, I really am interested in, in the fact that, and you did the rabbit hole into Twitter and then actually made the jump to reset everything all over again. But two not only in the world of information management, there are so many tools from Notion to WorkFlowy to Evernote, to anything else. Why Roam? Right. Why this one tool I would love to hear your take on maybe how you stumbled into the tool and maybe how did it play a part, uh, on your note taking life of basically the dark times. Yeah, and great question. I love that term the dark times and the before times. And then I think it was Maggie Appleton that mentioned that, that term a couple episodes ago on the podcast. Before Rome, I didn't really have a good system that stuff like I've used use other tools, um, for trying to organize my thought, I try to use mind maps or, you know, Evernote or just text files, but nothing really seemed to really fit. Right. But I haven't really gone all in on a certain tool. And I think the reason was is that I felt that, there was always something about a tool that I would interact with that didn't quite feel right. Like, I didn't feel like there was a potential. and like I used Evernote for a period of time, a couple years back, and I just felt like I'd put things in and then I couldn't find them again. And then I'd have to conceptualize this complex tagging structure that I'd have to keep straight in my head. And then I'd say, well, did I tag that with S or did I use plural or not? Or, um, what is it that, how did I organize that? I can't remember how I found Roam actually. I'm sure it was Twitter. When in the early days of COVID. there was a moment of, Oh, I think that's the piece. I think that's, there's an, there's a piece of this program with this back-linking and this freedom of just putting things into this daily page and it'll. that just clicked for me. And all of a sudden I saw the potential of having a tool that would actually fit my needs and that I could kind of grow and scale into. So, so the why Roam really, for me, comes down to it being potential. There's potential in this software. It's not even the, how I'm using it today. It's how I will be able to continue to grow with the tool. And that's really important to me. Yeah, I think at that was the most attractive thing about Roam, like beyond all the features beyond the community itself and, beyond how bare bones it looks, because, you know, when you open the front page and there's like, literally nothing, just one date and like one bullet point. And then from there you're like, Oh, okay. What are we doing from there? The potential behind using the tool makes it really, really fascinating. So if we talk about the potential and my assumption is that you already have this image of future Brandon, the potential we're trying to achieve that. what did you envision as a potential future version of yourself when using this. great question. what I picture is that when I have an idea, I want to be able to capture it clearly, put it somewhere. I trust have it. Interact with other ideas I've had in the past. And for me to visit that place, to get even more ideas and to start to assemble it and process it into something bigger. So like I have ideas of, well, I know that I've had a lot of ideas in the health information technology space, but I haven't actually taken the time to kind of write them all down and organize them into a structure and make blog posts and articles and eBooks and books or In different formats, different lens, different organizations and structures. You're kind of just shuffling the same information. So if you're using the same information and you're recycling the same ideas in different ways, I want to be able to automate that. I don't want to have to copy and paste. And I, when I changed something somewhere, I want it to reflect somewhere else. so it's, it's a matter of creating those efficiencies. And for me, Roam has the potential to do that. Yeah, I liked that, uh, on the efficiencies, especially when we are trying to build our own current system for one capturing ideas or capturing current knowledge. And then two trying to synthesize that, to create something that is unique to us and three presenting that, no matter how shall we say no matter how chaotic our notes can be, or no matter how messy our thoughts can be, once you can refine that into right space, which is what Roam can provide us. That's what makes it pretty fascinating. Since you've been trying to synthesize all of these things, all of these fields that you're involved in, you did mention health information technology. I've never actually asked you this, either on Twitter or on DMs or anything like that. What do you do actually out of Twitter? Yeah, it's funny because I haven't really talked about what I do as a career, um, on Twitter or on the internet at all. Um, what I do is I'm a pharmacist practicing in Nova Scotia, Canada here. my, my personal mission as a pharmacist is to improve the healthcare experience of all Canadians and really people anywhere. And for me, that mission can be broken down into a couple of. I guess sections. And one of them is to, become an excellent pharmacist and care provider and two, to become a thought leader and, you know, an advocate for effective patient centered care. And, uh, from my lens, looking at pharmacy in, in. My practice experience. A lot of the challenge is information management. It's how do we design effective documentation systems so that when we're interacting with a patient, we're able to pick up where we left off every time we meet with them. You're getting kind of compound interest on that care relationship and that you're getting deeper and deeper with every encounter. what I'm finding is that I'm able to take some of the ideas in the information management space and port them into health care so that I'm able to improve the quality of the care experience by learning skills through Roam. And that's really exciting to me. So let's, let's go deeper into that because I, I'm going to be very honest. I know very little about. The information and workflow of the health care space, because we may be talking about, either diseases or physical conditions that you have to take care of as, or the combinations or formulae of drugs that are prescribed. But, uh, talk to me, what are the different examples of information that you put into Roam or, you know, put into your previous note taking system, and maybe once you put Roam to that, how does that increase the efficiency of your time working as a pharmacist? Yeah. And it's a great question. The, um, the information management in healthcare can take a couple of different forms. When I'm at work and when I'm working as a pharmacist, I'm not working in Roam actually, but I'm using concepts that through Rome and through the, the members of this community. but at its basic, when I interact with a patient, um, usually the prescribed a medication and the prescribed that medication for a healthcare condition. And that healthcare condition or that, that illness that they're experiencing, um, they may have, a status. So how well is that condition being controlled or what is, what is the state of their health and that's information, and then they have goals. What are they trying to achieve? What are they trying to get to? are they trying to get their blood pressure under control? Are we trying to get it to less than one 140 over 90 pressure wise? Are we trying to prevent a heart attack or a stroke? These are all goals and those are that's all information. and then we're building a care plan or a strategy. It's helping us to actually accomplish those goals and that, that care plan, that strategy could be prescribing a medication, looking at an exercise or diet program working on your, your mental health, your mindset, uh, developing relationships, physiotherapy, other allied health professionals and, and the tools and treatments that they bring to the table and all of that's information again. so for me, trying to wrangle that complexity in a way that I'm able to simplify it for the patient. And to keep focused on the goals and to make sure that when we are starting medications that they're done intentionally and that we're able to, assign them to the condition appropriately and determine whether or not they're working over time. Does that make sense? Yeah. Yeah, it does. I'm trying to visualize the workflow to activate that. My assumption is that you have. Linked references through the patient's name or details. And from there as you record results over, you know, either checkups or appointments over time, maybe alter the prescription, uh, and see how it would reach up to the goals that are assigned. Okay. That's okay. And at this point, we're, we're, we're conceptualizing what the future of health care could look like. And that's, that's really exciting to me because if I talk about where healthcare is today, in my experience in the healthcare, uh, and information is going to vary depending on where you are regionally. But, um, the last software that I was using in my pharmacy, I couldn't even hardwire into the program. The fact that this medication was being used for that condition, like, I couldn't say ramipril is being used for hypertension. And it wouldn't remember that over time. It's important because ramipril can be used for lots of different things often related to, um, you know, cardiovascular conditions or diabetic conditions or related to kidneys. Um, so it's really important that I know what, what we're trying to do with this drug. Not that we're just using it arbitrarily. So there's been some really embarrassing gaps in how those linkages and information are actually maintained within the software. So I find myself in positions where I'm giving feedback to, either the companies that, uh, that own software, um, or the people that are developing it or, um, other users on how to use it. Yeah. Existing technologies in creative ways to kind of build workarounds that we're able to build, better, uh, information networks. but if you then take it into, well, what does a good system look like? That's a totally different conversation. That's a lot of fun. yeah. Thinking about that. What does an effective system for your case look like? Actually, it sounds pretty exciting. I think I've just saw a tweet of a doctor, scraping either conditions or diseases and their relative symptoms into a roam graph. And then seeing that. In his own Roam so that he can search for potential diseases and symptoms in order to assess the patient in front of them to check whether or not they have the right symptoms. Yeah. It's really exciting because. You can build, you can build dynamic reference material. So like, like when I went to school, I learned from these, these textbooks. And to me, like, as I, as I learned about knowledge, and networked information textbooks are starting to feel stale old and dead to me. It's like, how do I find what's in here? And, uh, and now I'm in the process of I'm going back to school in September. Um, and I'll be going through that academic experience of learning, um, elements of health care again. And to be able to do that now with a tool like Roam, where I can start to assemble my, my second brain from a pharmacy perspective is. Wildly exciting to me because I'm going to be able to learn information, lock it into a network of thought that I, that I can then reference in clinical scenarios in the future. And I think it's going to make me a better practitioner hands down. Definitely because this is going to be a tool that will assist you. Not only throughout your tertiary education, I'm assuming it's a tertiary or like your. courses and then from there go out into the field and actually work in front of patients. This tool will be with you the entire time. So it'll be like this extremely large organic adaptive textbook. Oh, totally. In that, that organic textbook during the education process. So there's no longer a divide between the learning and the doing and the training and the providing a service. You're actually building an asset during your time that you're learning that you can then apply in the workplace. So there's a really smooth transition that occurs there. Yeah. I'm seeing that dynamic with the standard university student who would buy textbooks and then just throw them away once they graduated, because knowledge that is gained throughout your undergraduate degree or something equivalent is only used to get that scroll and will be thrown away immediately. So having something like Roam for students like this, it's just really exciting. Yeah. Yeah. And like, when I, when I read a textbook or when I consume knowledge, I want it to become a part of me. I want it to be a part of me that I can then reference and, and relate to and go back to and remember all the ideas that I had when I learned it. Um, and to be able to take the step deeper. But what I found was when I graduated university, I didn't take a step deeper. I took it. I took a step backwards. I started feeling my knowledge, like slipping away over time. Um, and that's a really scary feeling like to, just to feel that you're past your academic peak. Yeah, I think there's a, there's a certain dissociation between learning within these contexts, especially because when you're learning in a tertiary institution, You learn for an intended result, but then when you learn something within the working world, you learn for a certain output and especially in the world of pharmacy and or when you're treating patients, these are real life patients, right? These are people that you're dealing with. And I can't really comment because I'm not really a medical professional in any way, but my assumption is that you have sensitive information to deal with. You have prescriptions that must be accurate and you have to determine and assess whether or not you are, ensuring that you're giving the right what, what's the word for it? A consultation, uh, to these Yeah. Yeah, yeah, a lot of responsibility. Yeah. exactly. So my responsibility and what the pharmacist actually does is that I'm ensuring that the medication is safe and effective for the patient. So the traditional thing is that, you know, you make sure the right pills in the right bottle. And no, that's not really what a pharmacist does. It's more of the realm of pharmacy technician as we have in Canada. Um, but the pharmacist is the clinical expert. They're the ones that are the, the drug therapy expert. They, um, they work with physicians and work with healthcare teams to, to make sure that the medications that a patient's taking, are actually appropriate and productive for their state of health. We're actually able to now, um, work into initiating therapy or prescribing drugs or adjusting orders and those sorts of things you're optimizing the medication, um, over time. it makes the stakes even higher, you know, it means you need to get it right. And in order to get it right, you need to have the right information available. And in order to do that, you need to know how you're organizing your information. And so all of this is interrelated. Yeah, that like the most empirical perspective of that is documentation of the right formula or the right prescriptions of the right information. Oh, this is pretty interesting because I've never thought about it from. A pharmacist's perspective. So wait, let's let's, let's And you can build parallels. You can, you can take it to anything. Yeah, go ahead. Go ahead. So let's visualize this. You are about to go back in to say, I'm just gonna say school. You're about to go back into school. You've had work experience, I believe. anow you have this tool that will help you. First of all in note taking perspective, it's fantastic for your, you know, your current notes, uh, and or your current knowledge. They're about to build how different is it for you to start taking notes now that you have Rome, when you go back to school, then beforehand, when you didn't have Rome and you were taking notes. And the reason why I'm asking this is because I'm really interested, not only in the workflows of how you take notes from say a textbook, but the differences between how you would take notes. Within a schooling context. All right. And this is something I am so excited about. Um, I think the schooling experience is going to be totally different now that I have Roam as a tool, the way that I see it is now I get to actually integrate and learn in this deep sense. So rather than taking lecture notes, I use, what I used to do is, you know, print off PowerPoint slides and write in handwriting on this, like, you know, print six slides per page. And I would, you know, put that in a binder and then I would review that when it come, came exam time. And then, um, I laugh, we have these. These are my old binders that are still in the pharmacy. And they kind of like haunted me from the back corner because I never opened them because they're, they're out of date. They're not tied to anything else I do. they're just not accessible knowledge. But now as I'm going to go through these, these lectures and learn information through my self study and my research as I go through the program, I'm building these deep links. I'm building pages for medications that I'm studying for conditions that I'm seeing. Studying. when I do patient cases, I'm connecting it to those pages and I'm creating this, this deep network of clinical knowledge that, I'm really going to be able to use for my entire life. And my, my vision with this is that I can actually start to build a clinical framework, right. That's sustainable for lifelong learning. So if I attend like a continuing education session, you know, three years after I graduate, then I have a place to put that knowledge in connection with that vest network of clinical information. It's like, I'm learning a bit by bit. And I can add small pieces of information, but it, it becomes relevant in the context of the rest of the information contained within my database. I'm really, really excited to explore these ideas. I haven't built it yet, but I can, I can kind of see it from here. Can you see yourself pitching Rome to other people in your cohort? When you go back to school? Yeah, I can't help but pitch Roam right now. It's, it's been definitely a, an obsession as of late, because I'm just so blown away by the potential of this technology and this way of thinking that um naturally, if you talk with me long enough right now in conversation, um, it will get to Rome. You sound just like me. Yeah, it's all, all roads lead to Rome. Very literally. Yeah. Uh, it, it is really defining and I I'm, I'm a bit, I'm going to be very honest. I'm, uh, I'm excited and I'm worried at the same time. And, and let's, let's dive into this because maybe you'd have a great perspective on this. The impact of Roam to our routines, our note taking systems and our ways to think is so profound. I'm not, I'm not trying to be egotistic in any way here, but it is so profound that it is affecting even our daily conversations. And to me, conversations are the most empirical form of trying to learn something from a different source. So if you are reading from a textbook and you're learning, you're having a conversation with the author. Through the form of a book or reading, or if you're doing a podcast, you're talking to somebody, the conversations are where you learned the most, you know, the most interesting things, the fact that Roam can really affect what we're talking about here, or, you know, conversations with anybody. And then all of a sudden it will always lead to Rome, or it will always lead to anything related to the tool. kind of scares me because this tool is affecting how I think. I'm not sure if that is evidence of my identity being shaken or slowly evolving over time or changing. Is it positive or is it negative? I'm not too sure. But as someone who is like doing the show, if you think about it outside the box, it's a very interesting perspective. And I'm seeing this with every other guests. So I'm just curious, maybe on your take on this, the more that you use Roam each and every day. How has it changed the way that you look at writing or note-taking or receiving information in general? Yeah, that's a, that's a great question. I think I need a little bit more work to see where the worry comes from there for you. Like what, what is the outcome that you're worried about? So The worry isn't about, you know, the tool and its effectiveness or anything. I recognize that the effectiveness is just amazing. Like these features are fantastic. And the potential as we've talked about before is so great that I'm willing to pay to continue in all that. Uh, I'm worried about dependence that, that I'm depending too much on this one tool for potentiality and that if I'm Oh, there we go. Okay. I'm not connected if I'm not connected to my laptop, if I'm not connected to my phone, all of my notes are there on Rome and I will never ever access it. How much of myself is put into this graph that I can't think for myself anymore is the one question that is kind of bugging me recently. So, yeah. Yeah. Uh, what's your take on that question and maybe, do you even have like an answer or a thought or a lingering thought of that? Yeah. I think so. I think so. And maybe my, my approach to Roam will be, it will be interesting in that regard. Um, I, that doesn't worry me. Um, and for me, the, the process of learning a program like Roam is valuable, even if Rome disintegrates, like if Roam disappeared tomorrow, That'd be fine. Something else is going to come. That's going to satisfy that type of thinking and that type of thought and the type of information, storage and management. Um, so roam it's self, well as an entity I'm not attached to, nor am I attached to the dataset that I contained within it, for me roam trains the way that I interact with the world, which trains my presence and my intuition. And I take that with me everywhere. So when I interact with my database, I don't actually reference it when I'm, when I'm in conversation with people. But because I did reference it recently or that I was working in it recently, I'm building better neural connectivity between ideas. I don't know if there's a biology behind that or not because these ideas are resurfacing and interesting ways all the time. They're just becoming a part of me and then not actually dependent on the database for those insights. It's within me, but the database provides me with the framework for how I consume information, how I process information. Does that make sense? Yeah. Uh I'm I'm yeah, yeah, actually it does. Yeah. Let's, let's touch on that a little bit. if the mode in which you are using your room, you write your notes within the graph. You tap into the potentiality that Rome can provide and or if you look at it from another angle, Roam is a way or a tool for you to reach that potentiality. It is not that you are depending on Roam to achieve that. It is that Roam is training you to achieve that yourself. And it is a compliment. And if you walk away from the laptop or you walk away from the phone and you just interact with the world, you take with you, the ability to achieve that, like harnessed within you, is that, is that more or less? What, what we're trying to get at here? Yeah. Yeah, I think so. And a lot of it is the actual synthesis of idea. It's when I'm, when I'm working within Roam, I'm working to slam my ideas against each other and I'm just brainstorming. I'll do like a mind sweep. Um, and I'll just write down all my thoughts. Just free expression. And then I'll be able to look at them and I'll think of things in a different way. But then once I have an idea, once I've made a connection, it's there and I don't really forget it, but I needed the tool in order to get to the synthesis sometimes. Um, so, so when I'm interacting with my information, it's still within me. The tool helps me to upgrade my knowledge and upgrade my, um, the connections between my ideas, but I actually don't need the tool in order to remember them or resurface them in conversation that kind of happens intuitively. Nice. Okay. Alright. So setting the foundation for that to occur. Interesting. Okay. So it's like a, it's a bit like training wheels for a new evolved level of thinking. At least that's what And it's more than that too, because it then sets up the scaffolding like then as you build your database and as you build your network of information and if that structure still exists within there, so then when you return to it, You're you're building ideas from where you left off and you're continuing to rise with it. So that scaffolding, as you're, as you're developing ideas keeps rising and you keep attaching new ideas to it as you go. so it's not that I don't need the tool because I do need tools for thought. I really do need need systems for, um, engaging my ideas in new and creative ways. Um, but it's, it's not a dependency because I could probably burn my Roam database to the ground at some point. And I can rebuild it within a short period of time because it's become a part of me of sorts and the things that I've learned through that iteration of my database, um, I'll be able to quickly apply to version two. Oh, well on the notion of burning down your database, I can probably never, ever do that. So I'm not at that level yet. Uh, just because it is so interconnected and full of notes that I sent, I have yet to process. So it's still a bit scary. Uh, still, still a bit scary, but here's, here's one thing. if you want to build that scaffolding. Where do you even start? Do you start with the, how, or do you start with the why? Because I want to bring up this, uh, this tweet that you quoted, uh, when I was asking for a Q and A's, uh, for our talk right now, and you brought up the quote by Andre Martin. So shout outs to @fio_condutor. He asks, what is a structure? What are we trying to achieve? Are you creating or collecting? This is hard. And in the process of trying to make it easy and externalize it, people often fall prey to some snake oil, false promises. So at least my interpretation of this tweet, which is a very fascinating and really interesting one, by the way, is that on the pursuit of trying to define our own structure of our own graph, we fall prey to. Simplified explanations and, or what seemed like robust frameworks explained by third party entities. So other people who are really, really good at note taking, when you're trying to build the scaffolding or when you're trying to build these abilities yourself, do you start with the, how, or do you start with the why I would love to hear, Oh, that's such a, it's such a good question. And I've been really enjoying my interactions with Andre the last day, the last day here, since he's, uh, uh, chimed in, on a post with Roam research and then now with, uh, with the post that I had made. Um, and I think where he's getting to is a really philosophical place of what, what is information? What is the structures that you're trying to set up? How, how should you be developing those relationships between ideas? What are tasks? What are projects. And all of those philosophical questions around productivity and personal knowledge management are critical. In my opinion, like it, at least for me, I like a level of depth. I like getting to the place of philosophy. I like challenging the way that things are done or questioning how, why that structure is valuable and how it could be different. Um, and. For me, I always start with why I always start with, what am I trying to accomplish? What are you, what is the purpose of this database? What's the purpose of the system I'm building in the first place and how can I develop a structure that compliments that philosophy? And the philosophy is a journey. It's an ongoing discovery and it's a self reflective one. It's one that I. Um, engage in courses. I engage in, um, the community. I've listened to what people are saying and how they're using their structures and their databases. And it advises my philosophy. It changes how I think about information. Like a good example is like Andy Matuschak's evergreen note system with his, uh, with his working notes website. Like that's a great example of something that changed my philosophy of managing knowledge work. And it was, you know, these atomic units of information, how you can use those as building blocks for ideas and this like API style titling, where you can use it in one place and then use it in another, like that type of philosophy is important, um, to be able to do that. but what it looks like, what structure should you establish is a really, really hard question because I think you need something. Or you may just disintegrate into chaos, um, and that's not great. Um, but if you're too much structure, you get crippled by order and that reduces your creativity. Um, so I use that order and chaos dynamic to explore this personally. and for me, it's about finding the balance between the two it's about injecting enough chaos that I'm continuously experimenting and exploring, but enough order to keep me stable I love this. You've brought up the two biggest words that make up my own note taking system that I haven't even talked about with anybody else. And that is the order and chaos system. So this is really, really interesting because you talk about balancing order and chaos. I actually don't balance. my definition or my notion of chaos in order, mainly because what is being articulated to the rest of the world is order. And everything else is only seen by me. So therefore it is chaos. So a lot of my notes are 90% chaos and only like 10% order, how that was reflected in my note taking system is that my note taking systems, hierarchy or categorization system, It's very, very simple, but it makes sense to me. And I only need a little bit just for, for myself to get maybe a prompt or, an evergreen note that I can work on later on just a little bit of order to know what I should be doing on the day and nothing more, because I'd rather be more high touch with my notes. here's the question for you? What is the criteria for a chaotic note or a note taken from chaos to become orderly? Is there a transition that you actively do to make that a much more useful or even presentable to the public? Yeah. Great question. And, Oh, there's so many different ways I can go with that whole discussion because I think as a community within Roam, we have this, this space that everybody's systems that I see are very orderly because that's the, that's the version of their database that they choose to show me. When they're publishing how tos are when they're showing their templates, you get this impression that everybody's, everybody's Roam home is tidy and neat, but, um, I get the sense that that's the tip of the iceberg and that below that iceberg is a level of chaos. And then that chaos rises into assemblance of order of sorts that becomes that published work or that presented material, um, even, even within the Roam community. So it's refreshing to hear that your, you identify yours as being 90% chaos. I think that's really cool. Um, but how do you get from that chaos or that, um, that disorderly note taking into something practical is the question, is that, is that accurate? yeah, that's right. Yeah. So, so for me, that's, that's an exploration for, uh, a lot of it right now is me just emptying my thoughts into my database. Like I just get a lot of value out of just hashtag mind sweep, like David Allen style and just bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, a bunch of just ideas. Or, um, while I'm on the go, um, I use drafts app for iOS, um, to capture ideas on the go. Um, so if, if I'm in conversation or, um, I I'm, you know, washing the dishes and I come up with an idea immediately, I opened drafts and I put in that idea, but I've developed this rock solid. Capture habit, but then that creates a lot of chaos. There's a lot of input. And then that input can be overwhelming to process because you look at your drafts badge and they're like, Oh no, I haven't been clearing this out and I've got 230 in there and you lose, you lose a sense of, well, what's the value of me taking three hours and going through all of this. but how I'm starting to process information is where Rome comes in before Rome. I didn't have a system for processing idea into more refined idea and more refined product. Um, so now what I do is I'm building the habit of doing my brainstorms in Roam, or I'm importing them into Rome and then I'm starting to see patterns and I'm using tags. To identify levels of refinement. And I really like what Maggie Appleton is doing with her seedlings evergreen concept. and I don't love the evergreen concept for all of my information because I find distilling everything into these. These really nicely titled and atomic units is really challenging. And I know it's a worthwhile work, but it's really challenging. So I need to, I need a sloppier system that still has some structure that I've yet to totally fine. Um, but I am kind of working with that framework. It's kind of like, uh, seedlings. If I see something that's cool within my ideas, and I say, there's something here that's worth finding a bit, then I'll make it a seedling. I'll go hashtag seedling on the block. And then of course, when I go to the seedlings page, I can see that as a link reference. As kind of an inbox. And then over time, I'll take that seedlings inbox and I'll bring it into the main body of the seedlings note. So it's kind of like a half step it's. I'm just corralling it and prioritizing it a bit. And then what I do is I take those and I say, well, can I refine that idea? Can I elaborate on that a little bit more? Can I expand on it? And then I'm getting into a more thought out idea. And then from there, I can take it to an evergreen note or I could take it to maybe eventually I'll make blog posts out of it, or just page concepts or, uh, an idea. And then eventually you get these collections of ideas that are interrelated, and I'm starting to conceptualize those working on the, the botany metaphor of going seedlings, evergreens, groves as like a small collection of related trees. nice. And for me, what that is, it's a neighborhood within my own database. That is, a collection of polished ish thought. And then from there you can like, eventually I can see that scale of once I've built groves and there's related groves I can build forests, you know, and you can really, you can really go to hell with the joke. Um, but I'm not at that level of scale yet. A lot of my ideas are still in that, that front end that like either rough, um, unprocessed material for there might be something here or a couple of ideas that I'm more comfortable having refined, um, So that's a little bit of this system that I'm conceptualizing. what are some potential flaws behind that I can see that these labels or these tags, Really helped for you to know at what stage are they developed or at what stage, you know, however much time that you've invested into these specific notes. Uh, but is there some kind of a fallback or disadvantage that you can think of as you're trying to conceptualize this system, or as you're trying to test this out over time, For me, it's just maintaining consistency within the systems that I use. Um, like it's remembering the tags that I'm using and using them consistently seems to be the drawback is because there's a lack of structure within Roam. Um, sometimes I can descend too far into chaos again. Um, and, uh, I'll use hashtag idea or hashtag idea bank or, uh, hashtag tweet or hashtag tweetable, or, and then I get like, Oh, these are really closely related ideas that are kind of describing the same type of idea and you get this dispersion, um, that makes it harder to have everything where you need it. so for me, the drawback is not necessarily a drawback, but just something that I need to philosophically sit with. A little bit longer to develop more structured use of tags and maybe, maybe Andre again, which challenged me that you know, that that chaotic dispersion is productive and that's the discovery of a better system. And I would agree, but I still think you need to dial back into order in order to find something that works and that you can actually produce content with. Yeah. That's, that's the thing about seeking balance since you can't have one without the other, I'm looking at it as. Different angles in trying to arrive at that point where you have a system that really reflects how you want to process these notes as best as you can, when you're working on the system right now, and I'm sure it's working just fine, and you have to have the consistency and the habit of making sure that you're processing these, uh, these small seedlings, one, one at a time. But a few months later, maybe you'll find a new system or you'll discover, or you'll evolve to a new system that may be completely different. Uh, but in order to reach there, you'd have to go through these, these fallbacks, these pitfalls. But I believe that the journey or the struggle of trying to get there is an experience that we have to do firsthand. We can't really just have it given to us like Yeah, I Yeah. And I think, I think that's part of it. Like I heard, um, I heard recently I was in conversation. Somebody was describing a similar sort of thing that you just have to experience it. You have to experience the challenge of trying to figure it out. Um, and uh, they said you can't skip that dance. And that, that resonated with me. It's like, Hmm. Maybe you can't, maybe you can't just be given a system, a set of tags, a way to organize your thought because it doesn't actually match how your brain thinks. So you need to try something and fail and try something and iterate, make it a little bit better. Um, adjusted a little bit, individualize it. Find something that resonates a little bit more. And eventually I have the faith that I will land on something that matches my thought process. And it, it's not like I can't just take Maggie's system and say like, okay, Maggie's tags into Brandon's Roam and where we go all done. I can think clearly it just doesn't work like that. And that's why you're getting such diversity in how people are using Roam is because everybody's. Conceptualize his information in a slightly different way. I think. Yeah, I see that. And, uh, I remember seeing a tweet that I forgot who was it that mentioned it. I'll will definitely link it in the room graph, but someone described Rome as a Go board. If you know, the board game Go, You don't okay. A go board. Uh, it looks a bit like a set of people. Fans of go, the board game is, are going to destroy me for this. Uh, but it's, it's, it's a bit like it's a bit like chess, like the level of intellectual complexity and different strategies, but the pieces are small, black and white. Marbles like circular, small marbles, and you can put it anywhere and you have to surround the opponents marble. So something like, something like that. Uh, it's very huge strategy game. It's, it's known to be used or known to be used as practice by lots of leaders, uh, in ages past. he describes Roam as a go board, but. Any strategies is accepted. So it's similar to having a blank canvas and you can choose to paint whatever art is there in any way, shape or form. That really describes the journey in which people in the pursuit of trying to understand how to use Roam, they would first emulate. And then from there they will create, so they will emulate other people's frameworks and they're like, Oh, this sucks. Or, Oh yeah. This one works, but this part I don't agree with or this one reflects me, but this other part I don't understand at all. So they will try to evolve or fork away or try to create their own version of that system and then overtime. It becomes something that is completely unique to them. And I think that Roam as a tool, allowing that to happen makes it. far ahead in terms of its ability to cater for all kinds of brains or all kinds of individuals compared to other tools, not to put down any other tool because every other tool is great. It's just that Rome really caters for even the most chaotic of people, Yeah. And I think, I think most people are chaotic. I think I'm willing to put down other tools because I I've used them and they haven't worked. It's, you know, it's that freedom of expression of how you want to build your information and how you want to tag it. The freedom of expression that Rome offers you is so valuable to me because then I can iterate. Then I can make a better system. Then I can change it over time. So in my experience, other tools have been quite prescriptive in how they want you to use them. Um, either there's a suggested ways that you tag information or you have to put them into file folder hierarchies, um, or within task management apps. They give you certain contexts that you have to work with. for me, I've always grown out of those systems and I've always, you know, sent emails to the developers and said like, Hey, like, have you considered adding this in? Or have you considered, you know, making this possible or even something like tags, a lot of apps don't even have that. And it's been like, Hey, can you like add tags so that I can customize my workflow a little bit. And I've always felt this resistance with kind of working up against the developer's idea on how the information should be managed within their software. Um, and when was the first time I haven't met that resistance and I feel like I actually have the reins. The creativity is in my court. I get to choose how I structure it, and that can be both intimidating or freeing. But when you've experienced using software that tries to tell you how to use it. And then you experience freedom. That is meaningful. Oh, that that is a very difficult and burdening freedom to achieve because to even get to that point, it's a huge leap, at least from how I can see it. And, you know, coming from other app, like note taking apps like Evernote and notions, which have amazing many of them for features to instill order the get go, which is the very important part is what part of information capture workflow does order play a part in? And for a lot of these apps is that order comes in at step one. You have to have a predefined structure. And then from there. From their information must go here. It must not go anywhere else. It must go here. And then all of a sudden you have Roam. And if you can compare this to say, okay, say you build a world or like a planet and you have these lands, these mountains, these Hills, the sky and the clouds and the birds. That is the order in which say something like Evernote or notion of what can provide. And all of a sudden Rome is just nothing but space and it's, it's just what you make of it. And it will appear. But that's scary for a lot of people. They may need some level of guiding or some level of handholding to give them step one. And then step two, two onwards is when we start to think, Oh, Brandon's system is different from mine, or I'm going to do it differently. And you might look at it and be like, why do you do it like that? It's a, you know, you might disagree with my system. Um, but the versatility that, and that's, I think where the that's where the culture and the community comes in. And that's why I think Roam's culture and community is so strong is because that framework has pulled away. You're then left with this pen and blank piece of paper. And you say, now what. And then you've got these people that are using it and that are raving about it and saying like, Oh my God, I love this freedom. I love what I can do with the software. I love how it allows me to connect my ideas and you're thinking as a new user, like, Oh, wow. Like, I don't feel that way yet. I want to know what they see that I don't see. And then that pulls you into engagement. It pulls you into, um, you know, reviewing somebody's YouTube tutorial set on how they're using the different features or, Hey, here's the template that I'm using. And that gives you a new idea on how you can draw your own creativity, but it all pulls you into engagement and it creates a sense of community. And that's, what's really exciting to me is because this community of people, both trains me on how I can conceptualize, how to manage my information. But they're also people and I'm meeting people that have, are living interesting lives and are operating interesting careers and are having unique ideas. So I'm not only learning about the tool, I'm learning about people and the world, and I'm taken on these learning journeys that I didn't even sign up for. But here I am, you know, But that is exactly what we're doing with Roam anyway, because the more that you make link references with the thoughts and the notes that you're taking, the more you go into this deep dive rabbit hole, and all of a sudden the roamcult is very reflective of that. That you would connect with each and every member that have their own set of notes and systems and perspectives and opinions, but you meet with them. And all of a sudden they have very interesting lives that you'd love to dive into. So here's one thing that I've always wanted to ask you, as a Rome cult member, I know that you're a true believer. And we've talked about this before in DMs, that you were part of the true believer calls. Could you tell me what happens? Like what happened in the first one or what happens normally in true believer calls, because as someone who is looking from the outside and hearing about it, I'm always like, damn, I wish I was there, but yeah. Could you like give me a really good image or a visual as to what are people talking about and how are they connected to each other? Yeah, totally. And it's funny, like, um, when I, when I heard of Roam, I missed the, um, the closing of the waitlist by two hours. I decided I was, I saw, I saw the info, the information about the program, like maybe the day or two before then. And I was like, Oh wow. Like I think this thing seems to be picking up steam and it really seems to be fitting my needs. And then I went to like open the website and I said, I'm doing it. I'm signing up for the beta. And I got there and I saw the, you know, the Gates of Roam were closed and I was sent to this, this, uh, this depths of despair of not being able to use it for a better month while they, while they got their systems in order to be able to scale it to the amount of users that wanted it. And, uh, I went through this whole journey of using a Notion and trying to figure out other tools and tried Obsidian and really served me looking back in time. But, um, what, what that time did that, that space was, it gave me an idea of resolve that Rome really was what I was looking for. So when Conor opened up the waitlist again and, and, uh, set up the payment modules, um, I hadn't even opened the software yet. Like I hadn't seen the daily page. And I checked out for the five-year believer plan without trialing. Just completely blind. What? You believe that even before you tried it? Absolutely purely based on vision. I just, I, I believed based on the idea of the program, what the community was talking about, the level of testimonial and excitement within the people that were using it, and Conor's articulation of where the program is and where it's going was enough for me to commit to five years without even trying it. Oh, my God. Yeah. So, so that's really cool because. Part of what was attractive to the five year thing was these calls. It was these, these believer calls because I had a sense that there was, there were some interesting people within the community and that there were people that had interesting ideas on how to navigate this idea space. And I was just fascinated by the whole thing. And I wanted to use the program anyway, and I like playing longterm games. So I just. Five years made sense. I've never committed to something that long or paid that significantly for software before. but something pulled me towards it. So there was a, there was a leap of faith and I'm glad I did because am thoroughly enjoying the, the, the program, obviously here I am on this call with you. but the calls have been really cool. Like the first one there might've been, I can't remember the numbers, maybe 150 to 200 people on the line at first. Um, Connor went through just a really casual, like, uh, about an hour discussion on kind of where Roam is, where it's going. Some roadmap stuff, a little bit of, kind of the philosophy of how he's developing it. Some of the history on him coming up with it and working with Josh and meeting at the coding camp and living in a van and all this interesting backstory and, um, That that first call was interesting because when Conor got off the line after the hour, he said like, Hey, like I need to get back to work, but like, Hey, if you guys want to hang out for awhile, like the room's all yours, I'll just leave my laptop on. And, uh, I stayed, I'm always the last one to leave a conference or a discussion, or I like to hang around because it's the after conversations that are usually interesting to me. And I ended up getting involved in this conversation about the future of education Roam and just peripheral discussions about the software enrollment as a culture and potential and a bunch of time elapsed. And then eventually Connor came back for his laptop. He logged back on Zoom and he said, Whoa, you guys are still here. And then Conor came on. Um, Josh came on his, uh, his cofounder and technical officer, I think. And, uh, uh, new hire Victoria was on the call. Um, and, uh, they just stayed on for another hour or an hour and a half. And we had this really casual conversation with them just as they were just hanging out. And that's, that's really cool, you know, having that level of connection within a community where you can, you can interact with the person that's building it and contribute to and hear the vision firsthand is an experience I've never even heard of before. Yeah, I don't think I've seen one at that level of comparison other than maybe notion because notion tends to be very interactive with their members to have a lot of meetups and groups and all that. But it's interesting to see that up to 200 people stayed in zoom. And even after the call, I'm not sure how many are left, but Yeah, it dwindled. I mean, at the end, at the end, there was like four or five of us contributing to the conversation and it might've been like 20 blocks still populated, but, you know, video off audio off. So I don't know if they just left their computer item, but it certainly dwindled towards the end. There was only about four or five of us that stayed on until the wee hours of the night.

I think it was 5:

00 AM. Local time here when I ultimately hung up. Oh, my goodness. So. here's something to ask. Oh, once they, once the team came back, uh, to see that people were still hanging out in the room, was there ever any comment from the Roam research team about their thoughts on the roamcult or their thoughts on true believers. And the reason why I'm asking is because there's a distinction between people who are already paying the beta users and people who are true believers. And in your case specifically, you are a true believer, but not a beta tester. So that is already a very interesting category of person to be, committed to the mission that is room research. Whereas. I'm assuming a lot of the true believers are people who've already tested the app for months on end, and then they convert it into true believers. I'm just really curious. how is the team interacting with, true believers and the Rome cult and how does that help with say pushing the tool itself? Yeah, great question. well first off, some, some thoughts about kind of the Roam culture from me is, um, I, I find that, you know, a little bit tongue in cheek, ultimately, um, I think the tone of the communication around roamcult is quite intense. You know, it's, it's cult like that's a, that's a big, strong word. Um, for me, I, I take that back to culture. I take that back to, um, intense support for the mission and vision of a group. And. That, that makes more sense to me. So I always kind of frame it into culture because, you know, culty feels a little bit exclusive to people and I, I don't like that intonation a whole lot, but you know, it is a little culty and in that it has a really strong culture and I think that's a really good thing. And I think that's especially strong within the cohort that chose the five year plan, the believers, because. Like even Connor and the team, when they're on those calls, they interact with that group of people with a level of seriousness. Like he assumes that people understand what the program is, where they're attempting to go, what problems they're trying to solve. Some basic, uh, information management. Philosophy and premise. and he just really has authentic conversation and explorative discussion with the community. Um, and, and that's really cool, but also, you know, previewing features and getting feedback. And, um, like Connor always says, he wrestles roadmap questions and it's like, when will we get the upgrade on block references? Or when will we get better search or when will we get yada yada yada. And he gives the same answer every time, which is. It's super honorable and accurate it's well, I can't wait to build it either, but once I can conceptualize it, it'll happen right. It's it's not a laborious task. It's an information management problem. It's cracking the code. so some of it is, it seems like Connor is thinking out loud in these calls, which is really cool because once he has certain insights, That leads to new features. So, so this group of, um, of believers or people that are really intensely involved with the, the direction of this organization can contribute to the development of the program itself. That's actually very, very interesting because it sounds to me like the roadmap is less of a rigid. Step A, to B to C all the way to Z, where you will expect this feature to come up, or you will expect this, the version two of roam research to be, to have these following features, but rather encouraging serendipity to be the main influencing factor behind the features that would get added to REM research. You have all these factors that contribute to Conor's thinking. One, the true believers call, which, you know, you're a big part of and two the Twitter conversations of everything related to the hashtag roam cult, that will add to the direction in which we might get features, uh, over time. Absolutely. And, and the tool itself like, and the third point is like, as Rome has developed Conor's, thinking about developing Rome in Rome. So it's this self-propelling flywheel of, as the tool gets stronger at managing information and generating insight and creating algorithms of thought, then the tool develops faster because you can think more effectively within it. So then here's the question. If one of the factors is the community where roamcult is always talking to each other. Uh, you have announcements of, you know, Rome toolkit or many of their amazing extensions and or additions to roam research the tool are coming up and complimentary apps or services that help with. Your general note, taking workflow for putting into Rome, would Rome be able to get to its current point right now if Twitter existed or not? It's a good question. It's probably a better question for Conor. Um, but it certainly seems like he does a lot of thinking out loud and uses some of the, the network thought collaborative features of, of Twitter. I mean, I'm just starting to understand Twitter. Like I'm a, I'm a new player in that game and, uh, it's really exciting. Um, but I think what Connor seems to be more excited about is multiplayer Roam. It's once we can open up this, this program from a single player game to a multiplayer game, and that you can actually have some collaboration on idea. Then that gets really exciting. Oh, I am. So looking forward to that, like a lot of people are talking about how can we reference other people's blocks and see that we can have a shared graph and, or a, a graph that is accessible and publicly linked, uh, so that these blocks can be used by you and by me and by anyone else in our own graph so that we can allow for. No, this level of serendipity, a different contexts or different scales to occur. I am really excited for that. And I feel that will be version two of Roam research. Like I think that will be when we are subject to the environment in which we think for ourselves, which is our private room graph. How will the dynamic change in the f you will allow your graph to be referenced by other people? Will that change your thinking? Or will that change your note taking process? That is probably one of the most exciting things to think about. It will also scare me. yeah, and there's always going to be a private and a public. Like there's always going to be a place where you think authentically, um, to yourself, and then there's going to be pieces of that, that you can export to a more public interface that people can interact with. Uh, the future of collaboration and learning and knowledge is so exciting to me. I think the, the journey that Roam is on the journey of the Connors on, and the journey that a lot of the members of this community are on, are really changing the course of how we, how we learn and maintain societal knowledge. And I, I really think that there's going to be an explosive revolution in this area. Is there anything specific that you want to see come out of the future of Roam as it gets developed? Maybe we have the general, you know, growth in connection to collaborative thought, but, uh, do you think that. As Rome grows there are some possibilities that you are thinking of, or there are possibilities that are lingering in your head right now that you think, Oh, this might be possible in like 2 yeah. And it's funny. And sometimes it's hard to keep things under Roam banner, but like, I like to just zoom it back out to what's possible with information. Um, and often I'll use the Wikipedia project as an example of conceptualizing, you know, global collaborative information management and a, an idea that I had, you know, hiking around Cape Breton here in, um, uh, the days before I even was into Rome, I was, I was just really obsessed with the idea of the potential of network thought and, uh, An idea that kind of stuck with me was the idea of a personal Wiki and a public Wiki and the interactions that can take place between those two theoretical knowledge sets. And what that looks like to me is this public Wiki is this theoretical total knowledge set of what society knows. And we were nowhere near building that. I think we can work towards it and. If textbooks were integrated into this public Wiki and, um, expert knowledge was attracted into this public Wiki and, um, there's place for disagreement. It's not that all information has to be this unifying theory of existence. It's, you know, you can, you can build in ways to map disagreements and to have those as actual interfaces of productive discussion too. But the, the cool thing for me is that if you can define this public Wiki, this public nebulous of information, and then as a learner, your journey. Is to define what you know, and to have reflective and explored a thought and to constantly relate to that public knowledge set and to pull information down and to synthesize it and to process it into your own so that it makes sense. And yet there's this, there's this ongoing dance between this public and private information set such that your goal as an individual is to swell and expand as much as you can and handle. So that you're growing your personal understanding. So say if you're on a medicine journey or pharmacy journey, you're, you're taking the public knowledge that exists about pharmacy, and you're just absorbing as much of it as you can so that you can navigate it. And then you're contributing to the public Wiki. So you're, you're not just pulling information from it and learning you're contributing to that public knowledge set. so that general conceptualization on that interplay between the person and the individual as a, as a unit of thought and thinking power and all of the knowledge that exists is a really interesting future to consider. Oh, and especially on the use case of it being pharmacy, it makes it really, really fascinating, especially I'm not sure, maybe in the field of pharmacy that we have something similar in that you'd have maybe public forums on medical professionals who may be talking about latest practices There's stuff, there's stuff, but it's like, it's nowhere near the potential of how we can build these, these, uh, these dynamic information sets. It's like, if I have an idea and it's useful, It's useless if it stays mine. Um, and like if we have organizations that put work into developing, you know, libraries of, you know, medication monographs that have everything from what it's used for to the dosing, to the side effects to the monitoring parameters, um, all of that should exist within a dynamic network of information. And it should be portable in such a way that it's able to be used as database feeds into other interfaces. And we should be able to use and reuse that information and have suggested edits in really fluid ways. And we're still very siloed in our management of information as a society. And what I'm seeing with some of the vision of Roam. And some of the ideas that arise within the community is this true vision of interconnectedness and collective consciousness. Ah, yes. The amazing mission that is really the modus operandi of Rome, like connect everything. And I think, uh, I was just seeing an interview by, I believe it was Noah Kagan who was talking about Mark Zuckerberg's vision with building Facebook and is pretty simple vision connect the world, right. Something that grant, to see Rome achieve a vision of that grandeur instead of connecting the world, maybe just connect all the information. Is really, really exciting. And it really reflects in the community who see that potential and who will welcome that level of interconnectivity between thoughts, between conversations, and between the community or the communications of all of this knowledge putting together. So all this chaos, what seems like chaos, but put into in a very interesting organic orderly fashion is super exciting to me. Oh man, I Yeah. I mean, it's nothing short of ambitious like that, like, those ideas are as, as large of scope, as you can conceptualize, like that's, that's an end game stuff. Like, you know, we get that and you plug it into AI, then it's funny, like when you consider these. you get a bit of a Dunning-Kruger effect where you, you, you can know a little and think, you know, a lot, and there's such complexity that's to be uncovered at every step of this journey. But, um, it's not, it's not necessarily the belief that were there within two years, three years, five years. But I have a belief that once you, once you conceptualize something, you can't help but work towards it and you can't help to just make progress towards it. And once you've made it, had that idea, it sticks. And, uh, what Rome's working towards is quite noble in my opinion. And I'm happy to be a proud of it, Yeah, I'm definitely happy to be a part of it. So I'm not a true believer yet, but, uh, There will come a time where I will see you in the true believer calls and to partake in these interesting discussions. Here's here's something though. Yeah, totally. Totally. I will. In the future in near future Conor, don't quote me seriously. I will pay for it. No worry, very, very near future, but, but here's, here's the question on that grand vision on that potential future? I'm sure that the true believer calls are a really good filter for those who really do. I mean, not to repeat the title itself, believe in that vision, but have you had conversations with people who are already paying members and, or trying out Roam right now, and they have some doubts about that vision because people may have different expectations or different use cases and, or different needs when trying to use Roam. Some people just want a note taking app. Some people will want just a place to store all their information and they may or may not even care about that grand vision, but I would love to hear your take, um, from all the people that you've been talking about, especially around the Roamcult all of the members, because they have different desires, different needs and different levels of willingness to integrate all of their brain into this graph. But yeah, what's your take on that? Yeah. I think like users are going to be as diverse as they come. Like. Um, the true believer calls is going to be where a lot of the power users are and the people that are using it and way more advanced ways than I am. Like, I like to conceptualize what's possible with information, but by no means is my database anywhere near there. So I'm still using it as nearly as simple note taking app. I do some, you know, life and project planning stuff in it that I find quite effective. But, um, to gain sense of approachability to the tool and to say like somebody that's using an Evernote or a Notion right now, and they don't like, they get a sense that there's something going on and wrong. And there's some people that are doing an awful lot of talking about it, but not having that aha moment or that Whoa. There's something there a moment. Um, that's really interesting to me is like facilitating that moment and, uh, kind of giving a peek behind the curtain. That's exciting, but not overwhelming. Um, I understand that you don't need to be an expert in order to benefit. And that's, that's really where the beauty of Roam comes from for me is that you can use it as a simple text editor and like just. As a capture tool, you can just put information in it and do nothing with it. Not, not have a link, reference a tag, whatever, and not use a function. And there's still value in that. And then you can slowly grow once you start to see the, the advantages of different features. And usually it happens organically. In my opinion, like you say, like, Oh, wouldn't it be cool if, and then you say, Oh wait, I can do that. I just need to figure out how so there's this, there's this, uh, the program grows with you experience like right now, um, uh, my father, um, is, uh, starting to use Roam and he's by no means a tech expert. Um, but, uh, you know, he'll, he'll take some of the apps suggestions that I've thrown at him over the years and he's appreciated all of them in hindsight, once he gets past the arrr, or this is a little bit complicated for me hurdle. Um, but then once, once you get intubated in it and you have this faith that. Once I pushed through the first learning curve, then there's value on the other end of that. That's interesting. Let's touch on that because I remember that tweet very, very well. I, I mean, I did try my best to suggest a few things. Especially coming from the perspective of someone who may not be so technical since I, myself am not really technical as a person. I'm not a developer or a coder or in anything. All of my notes. Yeah. All of my notes. are not based on queries or anything like that. None of these advanced uses, although I would love to learn them, but right now my system is, is serving me perfectly fine. But let, let's talk about this because your father is using Roam now. Why did he want to use Rome? what need was he trying to satisfy? Or what desires he trying to fill in? Probably just curiosity based on my passion, honestly, um, like we were quite close, um, and we have a lot of conversations throughout the week. We worked together at the pharmacy. Um, and uh, we talk a lot about information management within healthcare, um, and information management in general and ideas and concept. Um, and all like during those conversations, I'd say like, this is something that has me excited about Roam. And then eventually it's like, Hey, why don't you give it a try? Like, I'm curious to see what your experience would be like. Um, as like a, not a hyper-technical user. and that's, that's been really cool. Like he's still at the early stages of it, but, he's starting to get the idea of it and the power of it. An example, um, and I haven't talked to him about this yet, but, um, this week, um, we had a little bit of rough news within our family and that, um, my grandmother and my father's mother passed away. And, uh, he's, uh, we're going through the process of, uh, coordinating the arrangements and, uh, trying to figure out how to get up to, uh, new Brunswick where, um, where they live for the, uh, the funeral and stuff. And he's interacting with a lot of family members and they're telling stories of, um, you know, uh, about his mom and about his parents, uh, about the old days on the potato farm. And, uh, I'm, I'm thinking, and I'm talking with him and saying like, Write this down, like keep these stories like right now is going to be so rich with information and story and, character traits and values that you may not have a chance to hear again, quite like that. And it's it's worth capturing that stuff. And it brings me to an article. I think it was, uh, Anne-Laure with Ness Labs that had this, this article and a similar experience where she was using Rome and she had a family member pass away. And she decided to go through this, this process of, of pulling stories from family members about, about this, her grandmother. And, uh, I think the article is as we may die, if you can find that, but. It really powerful. And I think it's examples like that that can be really profound to users that don't quite get it yet. And the power of creating that network of idea and story in a really tangible and non abstract way, because there's value in that. Like, if you can, if you can create a family story, time capsule, that's incredible. well, yeah, it is truly, um, especially when you can record these narratives or document these memories, which are. You know, they are evidence of the lives that have been lived, especially for those that passed away. So, uh, my condolences really, and and, and I feel that the weight behind writing down these stories collected from various family members is a really good way to reflect on the life of someone who has had, well, one, a great life to be remembered and two. Uh, not to dwell on one's death, but to celebrate one's life. Uh, the, in, in the process, you know, in that moment, but we are going to have a little bit of moment of vulnerability here where our emotions will be in a bit of a roller coaster, right. We've just lost someone dear to us. Love that is given to someone that is not there anymore is not love that is confused or love. There there's no home for that right now, because that person is not physically there. Then you have to really reevaluate let's celebrate their life instead of morning, you know, um, from now on. Yeah, because it's really painful to continue with that. So I really do appreciate that you're sharing. Um, thank you so much. And for me, Norman, the value of that type of thing is that's how you communicate. What this tool can enable to somebody that, that doesn't just put together the abstract concepts. It's um, and like, I don't know if you've noticed a Tracy. Yeah. I can't remember her full handle on Twitter, but she's doing a lot of stuff with journaling and reflection in Roam. And that's really exciting to me because then you're using it as a tool of self discovery and you're then getting into a conversation that's dynamic and across time with your future self and your past self and your present self as the mediator between all of those emotional States and, uh, and reflective spaces. And then you can take that and you can take it into healthcare, in therapeutics and saying, well, what's, if we can create something that enables interplay with thoughts. In really unique ways and to build out those use cases and to elaborate on the value, that specific ways to use Roam can have that's to me, how you get the next wave of Roam users engage with this software. That's probably the most beautiful pitch I've ever heard about Rome, because he tends to be a lot about, um, shall we say an overwhelming explanation of all the features and the tools or the use cases that we can do is like, Oh yeah, I can help you sort this out or, Oh yeah. Yeah. And it's baked in is productivity culture where it's, you know, it allows you to do more and have ideas and all these great things, but there's this softer, reflective side that can be there as well. And it's like one thing in, in, in healthcare I use as a communication tool is the difference between a feature and a benefit. So a feature of something is like what it is. It's like the specific service, like, you know, if I put your medications and you're taking, say five medications, and it's hard to remember them, I'll put them in a blister package for you and you can just pop out the bubble. And you'll remember to take which ones on the right time that's a feature. But the benefit of it is that it helps you to remember to take the medications that are important to for your health. And that they can enable you to maximize your quality of life for as long as you can. And to, you know, the, the benefit is actually what's meaningful. It's where the value is. And I think we do a lot of talking about features in Rome and not quite enough about benefits yet. Yeah, that's a lot of that is to do with what you said, the productivity culture being the number one bias or the number one context from which we talk about. roamcult, Rome and it's comparisons of utter note taking apps. So it naturally attracts those indie spaces like other, other accounts or other people on Twitter that just so happens to be in these other circles under the umbrella of productivity. But if you want to introduce Roam to other use cases, such as this, a way to reflect on life, a way to journal down and. Self coach yourself, or a way to confront your emotions or confront fears. I tend to do this a lot. a little bit of a throwback to what we were talking about before Andy Matuschak's evergreen notes. I highly disagree with that notion. I still respect his notes is amazing. It's just that the way that I would do it is very, very different. And one of the ways I do it is that I tend to make a page out of specific words. With connotative meanings to my life. So fear is a page in my row. So I would have the word fear and it has linked references to a lot of notes, a lot of chaotic, messy notes, and as well as journal entries for when I'm reflecting on my life. So you'd have many different use cases and contexts and environments all within the same graph. It's just a matter of how to access these contexts and not let them bleed over each other because that refines the purpose. When you're talking about things like this, when you are talking about what, like when you can put aside the productivity thing, and instead of trying to go for 5% more efficiency, you really just want to sit down think and ask yourself. Am I good with today? Is today a great day? Why? Why not? What should I be thinking about next? And another thing about that actually, and maybe, maybe you might have noticed this roamcult is very fast paced. So many updates, so many use cases, so many tools and so many people coming in and paying for it, which is fantastic. You know, it is, but it does leave a lot of potential individual users behind who prefer slower intake or a slower paced environment. For example like this, like journaling or reflecting on death or reflecting on family members, this it's things like that. Uh, I really wish that we would have greater examples of just not productivity at all. Like what you're sharing with me right now, like that you have to exercise quite a level of vulnerability. So I have to, once again, tip my hat off to you for that, which is amazing, but you know, you required. some level of bravery for that. there may be other use cases around the world who are using Rome for many different things. Just go beyond even industries or even fields. I want to see like real life examples. Like maybe like someone would have a hot dog stand they use roam to like, take care of like the sausages that they order. I don't know. Something like that. Like just something pretty simple and fun to see. And that's, that's, what's going to happen. And like, this is just the leading edge of, of people discovering the value of the program. And I really think that this, this idea and this, this way of relating to ourselves and our information is. Is going to propagate, like, I think this idea is contagious and I think once people start to get it and have those realizations of what's possible and how you can enhance your journaling experience to get to a different level of depth and awareness. Then that's, that's, that's really powerful stuff. And I think we're seeing that already within the community, like there's, there's people that are exploring those corners of use cases with Rome. Um, but for a new user, it's definitely hard to navigate and to find that stuff, but that'll, that'll get simplified over time. for me, I'm just excited that th that it enables it and it's, it's wonderful to me, like how there's, there's such a. a low floor and a high ceiling with the program. Like sometimes, sometimes programs will, will develop simplicity at the expense of complexity or they'll develop complexity at the expense of simplicity. They'll develop it for power users only as their target market or for really basic users. I'm just developing a note taking app only, and it's not useful to the other cohort. Um, but. What's amazing to me is that I think Roam fits both and I think it will increasingly right now they're still developing for power users primarily, I think, but I'm like they're intentionally leaving the interface stuff. For last. It's like the program could obviously be much prettier than that. Like the interface and user experience is a little bit cold and technical. but you know, let's just CSS, formatting away, a little bit of some user experience, update stuff. but. I really respect Rome for focusing on the fundamentals and for developing, developing it from a sound enough base that it enables exploration of all of these different use cases without, without catering to a specific one. Yeah, that versatility. I call it, I call it Rome fluidity in a different, in a different episode prior, we were. talking about its ability to cater for just about any single use case, uh, just how universal the app is, because essentially it's just a graph of information, how you use it. It depends on you. So to be able to cater for that, it doesn't matter who the person is. As long as they're human and they can type into their laptops, then you need a certain level of fluidity. So having that. Having that a low floor, high ceiling analogy actually would really help with trying to explain to somebody, how do you explain roam to someone who doesn't know the potentiality behind it? It's still something that I'm struggling with, with people around me and Yeah, same. Sometimes I do it and I get like a, you know, it's like, they're looking at me, like I got 10 heads. Like what kind of abstraction did I just throw at them? And then sometimes, sometimes they get it. They like can pick up what I'm putting down. And sometimes I'm surprised with, um, how, when I try and describe it, it'll almost sound like word salad. Like it's like, Oh, wow. That was a lot of just conceptual description. And, and then someone's like, Oh yeah, I get what you're saying. And I'm like, Whoa. So it's, it's, it's challenging to kind of find a way that's simple enough, but captures the profundity of the program at the same time. And I'm still, I'm still actively working on that language. Yeah, me too. And normally you'd have to word it in a way where it fits that person's context so that they can better understand it, which is pretty standard. But I would love to have some sort of graphic image or something that could just easily just copy paste and share to people where you would have like, Oh, first level. Surface level understanding is note taking app. The next level is thinking app third level is potential app or like potential encouragement app, or I dunno, something like Yeah, like a short animation, like something like a, a quick, do you ever watch like a, there's a great YouTube channel Kurzgesagt does these like really great animated explanations of scientific concepts and they just kind of walk you right through it. And it, uh, it's, it's really easy to understand because of how they do design their script and their imagery and whatever, and that's really complex. But like you say, just some simple graphic representations could be cool. So Hey, if, uh, if there's a graphic designer up there, Working with Roam and wants to help solve that problem. Okay. Uh, anybody, anybody in the animation space, would love to draft out a script and a video? I would love to just share it and pin it in it, put it in there, put it into public graph, uh, both on the official graph. And I will definitely put it on the public RoamFM and graph, cause I need something like that. It's becoming tiring to explain to people and I really want to, like, I really want to share. The feeling or shared the tool with people. And maybe, maybe you have some thoughts on this. The rationale behind me wanting to tell people about Rome is either that the tool is so great. I want to tell people, or I'm trying to articulate my excitement or my results. Because of using this tool to other people, do you find it difficult to distinguish that from trying to explain to other people, do you find it difficult to see whether or not you're using the right words to explain that benefit and really the tool itself? Yeah. And it's interesting because I'm like, I find myself talking about the program and talking about why I'm excited quite a bit, because it excites me. And I talk about things that I'm passionate about. That's just how I have conversation. the, the reason I had that conversation is quite complex. One is because just simply that it's interesting too, is that I think that there's value in it for anybody. And I really don't think you have to be a wildly technical user to, to leverage that value. Um, so it's, it's, I want to be able to take people on that journey if it's something that they're interested in, because there's such value in it. Um, like if I was to give advice to somebody that was considering Rome or was new with it, um, it would be just to simply have faith that the value's there and that it will seem complex at the start. And you'll have to probably go through a little bit of a taking philosophy journey in order to truly get it. And that might involve reading a book or following, you know, roamcult on Twitter and Rome research and the related accounts. Um, and I'm not gonna lie. It's a bit of a journey like, and you gotta, you gotta kind of feel that there's something on the other end of that for you. Um, and I think the people that are already using the tool. Already know the value of that at the end. So it makes the journey worthwhile, but for somebody that doesn't quite get it, if they could take just the simple leap of faith and just say, like, I get the sense that there's something there and I just need to find the appeal, do it, and it'll be worth it. And then if it's not, let me know. You'll convince him again. No, no, no, no. It's not for everybody, but like not everybody wants to kind of solve the great mysteries of the universe and explore the depths of their soul. Um, but if you're a curious person and you like ideas or you're managing projects, or you're trying to cast a vision for your life and you're, you're a journaler or you, um, you're writing or you're working in any sort of creative pursuit, you relate with information. And you're relying on generating insight and, um, developing better reflective process. Um, and if, if you're the type of person that works in that type of space, then the value is theoretically. It really is. And you can find it with another tool, maybe. Um, I haven't found something yet that's compelling. Um, but. I really think that it's, it's worth just the leap of faith. Jump in, get your feet wet. Um, find, find some users. Yeah. Is that a, you know, you can learn some tips and tricks with maybe join a couple of communities. Um, reach out, send me a message. I don't care. Like for me, I'm, I'm using my Twitter to kind of think out loud and just explore. Like I consider myself a fairly like novice to mid-level user. Like I don't code. I don't have a lot of programming experience. Um, It's just not my area of expertise. Like my job as a pharmacist, I just have a usual career. Um, and I'm, I'm doing this Twitter thing to kind of think out loud and to relate with people in the community and to talk with people outside of the Rome community and inside the learning community and the information management community. And, um, I think there's, there's value in walking that path and laying the path for others. So. Hey, if there's something that, uh, you know, somebody has questions reach out to me. I think it might be something fun to explore. The interesting thing about this is the community is very accepting of new users. So Brandon, not only you are willing to. You know, answer questions for new users or those who are quite skeptical about the tool, because, you know, there can be a little bit too much when it comes to the cult, uh, or shall we say the culture? Uh, but, uh, another thing is because we cater for so many use cases. There are people who may be introduced to the roamcult hashtag and be bombarded with use cases that are not relevant to them. So that really decreases their confidence in. Really just trying out the app. Um, and I've always been wondering about how to have a solution for that. And you may have touched on it already. We have like many communities. So hopefully, I mean, if we're going through the analogy of Rome as a city, if we're going to have writing guilds or like developer guilds or guilds, who are, who, those who are in a specific, um, fields. And I think I'm not sure if you're in the Slack, but, the Roam Slack has a roam medical channel, and they have been really, really interesting in terms of what they're talking about. And I'm part of that channel. I am in no way related to medical at all. It's just really fascinating to just look at the conversations and just read and just be like, yeah, totally. Yeah, that sounds pretty awesome. And it just completely goes over my head, but it's nice to know that despite the jargon and all the terms that are being put out there in that context, I can still see the serendipity. I can still see the benefits in between these doctors and medical professionals talking to each other. So it's nice to see. Hopefully we'll see more and more communities come up, Yeah, I think so, too. And like, as a, as a starting place, I think for a new user, like somewhere like Ness Labs, I think a lot of the writing that she's done. Is really approachable. Like it's, she's coming at it with the right intention, in my opinion, like this, this mindful productivity and this curious exploration of the program, it's use cases and some of the philosophy around information management and, uh, I've enjoyed the simplicity of her work. Um, and then there's, there's technical courses that you can do as well. But I think, um, You know, starting at a place that's not overwhelming and allowing you to get a sense of why you're there in the first place is important when you're starting, but those many communities as well, I think, uh, should start cropping up. you know, like I'd be, I'd be interested in, making something that like a group of people can interact with and engage with in a more intimate way. That's a little bit less overwhelming than the big wave of roamcult Twitter. Yeah. Sometimes it can get really overwhelming even for me. And I'm like the podcast person, so it's crazy. Um, yeah, maybe an entertaining, um, a live hangout or something for the show, just to get listeners to come in, just to meet with each other and talk. Cause I'm very open to like all kinds of use cases. So it's nice to see and, to. Close off this chat. I know that we have been talking for quite a while and let's uh, end it off with one final amazing question. What does Rome mean to you? Brendan. Oh, that's a great question. Um, I knew you were going to ask it because I've heard it on your episodes and I still have a hard time articulating it. It's so funny, but for me, for me, what Rome is to me is. It's a journey. It's an exploration it's, it's people and culture and ideas. And, um, it's centered around a tool that facilitates that journey, but the tool itself, isn't the exciting part. It's the, it's the people, it's the having new ideas. It's the organizing information in ways that allow me to level up how I live my life. so I think that's part of the answer of what Rome is to me, Rome means to me, it's a. You know, it's, it's a way of thinking and it's a, it's a journey. Fantastic and as long as you are staying on that journey, Brandon, I hope that you will, well talk with a lot more people, cause I'm sure that conversations are a core part of what you're doing right now, especially from resetting and just meeting all kinds of people on Twitter and, uh, exploring new ways to up your game in your own graph. So if we want to contact you find a way to talk to you or even get on a call with you. What is the best way to do that? Yeah, good question. Um, follow me on Twitter. So it's just at Brandon Toner. Um, and, uh, I'm at the early stages of my journey there still. So, uh, I answer all the messages that people send to me. And, um, any interactions on posts is always appreciated because. Discussion and connection is why I'm there. just developed my first website and a newsletter as kind of like a blogging thinking out loud experience because I find Twitter is fleeting, you know, like sometimes you have an idea and it's just gone. Into the ocean of the past. Um, so I wanted something that's more permanent too for, you know, if somebody finds me three months from now, they can interact with ideas that I've had that are, are more entry steps. So, uh, I think, uh, follow me on Twitter and find my website. I think it's linked on my profile there and let's learn together. Fantastic. And of course, links to Brandon's Twitter website and newsletter. There will be in the public RoamFM graph right below. So Brandon, thank you. And I will see you on Twitter. Absolutely look forward to chatting again.