Note: This workflow builds on a very new feature of Roam that’s still quite rough around the edges. But it’s very powerful already, and I’ll link to updated workflows as this feature develops. Roam Research just released a new feature that - while still the absolute MVP and rough around the edges - already offers a fantastic way of doing Spaced Repetition in Roam. For very thorough primers on what Spaced Repetition is and why you should absolutely do it, check these essays by Gwern and Michael Nielsen.
My father recently sent me a study/research-guide that my grandfather had printed in 1984 for his students called “Introduction to the Study of Eastern Church History”. He was a history professor researching Eastern Christianity and wrote his dissertation about “The Jacobite Church in the Age of the Syrian Renaissance”. I never met him, but judging from stories and evidenced by this text he was a meticulous researcher and took his work very seriously.
I have no idea how much ink has been spillt in the least five years by people using highlighters to mark up articles and books, but I would bet good money that most of it has been in vain. The reason for this is what I call Highlight Dementia - the face you make when you go back through your highlights and you’re like “whaaa…why did I highlight this, this is useless?
Can you play chess without knowing that you are doing so? Take a second to think about it - is this at all possible? I would argue that you can’t - you need to know the rules and you need to have some sort of language to communicate with your opponent that “checkmate” means the game is over. The language in which you do this doesn’t matter - English, French, German, Sign Language…all that matters is that you know the rules and can distinguish the figures.
If you’re in the orbit of Roam Research and the #roamcult, one term you might have come across more and more is that of an “Algorithm of Thought”. But what actually is that, and how do you use it? Broadly, algorithms are step-by-step procedures for solving problems or achieving an end [Merriam Webster]. Algorithms of Thought then are procedures for thinking through a problem or situation to solve it.
There are words you can’t use to describe yourself without sounding like an utter ass. Imagine asking someone at a party who they are and they respond with “Nice to meet you, I’m a brilliant photographer/physicist/writer” - instant, life-long friends you’ll be, no? In German, a brilliant (sorry) way to instantly alienate someone in the same way would be to use the word “Universalgenie” to refer to yourself. So you’re a universal genius now, are you?
One of the fun things about Roam Research is that you can very easily style the appearance of your database using CSS. I’ve been fond of the gruvbox color-scheme for a while, so I’ve built one for Roam. I’m using Azlen Elza’s incredible Zenith theme as a basis for it - the result looks like this: Figure 1: Gruvbox Light Roam Theme The above graphic also shows you how to install the theme and the adjustments I’ve made.
Contrary to popular belief, you can’t just disagree with someone because you feel like it. Disagreement is not a fundamental human right (although it certainly seems to be a fundamental human condition) - you have to earn the right to disagree with someone’s position. How do you earn the right to disagree? In “How to Read a Book” Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren share a great algorithm of thought to figure out whether you’re allowed to disagree with a position or not and what exactly your disagreement is.