Posted by: Frank | December 1, 2020

Frank blogged on December 01, 2020 at 12:24PM

I’ve responded to this question about “what does one do with ideas” with my wish for how products like Roam could be even better for me. In summary, I want an app like Roam that recognizes a string of text as the same as the title of an already existing page and automactically converts it to a link to that page without my having to specify it as such with square brackets.

I think the challenge is putting the “new idea” in a place that is connected/related in a way that easily re-surfaces. A common practice is to put all ideas in to one bucket/tickler file and then continually reviewing that bucket/tickler file, which itself requires discipline.

Roam has a nice feature that enables me to easily associate text to a future date so when that date arrives the app automatically displays that item. Roam isn’t unique in this feature and associating to dates is probably an easy problem to solve, but what I would like would be an automated way associate an idea to a topic that can re-surface whenever I search for or write about the topic.

The closest example I can think of is glossary function in Fargo or wiki links in Roam but even those require remembering special functions, quotes for glossary, square brackets for wiki links. What I would love is to be able to tell software, whenever I write this string of text automatically convert the text to a hyperlink to this page of more information about it. For software to just do it for me it would have to constantly monitor my writing, like MS Word’s spell/grammar check.

If memory serves, the closest experience I had to this was VoodooPad and WikiWikiWeb were you wrote in wikiwords like WhereIPutIdeas, that the software automatically converted to links, but that is flawed by the fact that one has to write in an unnatural way.

I guess what I want is some form of natural language processing of all text I write that queries against a collection of previously written pages and automatically links to matches. Even the backlinking in Roam requires some thinking/recollection on my part, unless there is something in Roam I have not yet discovered.

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