[Video Tour] (by Beau Haan) Zettelkasten in Roam. Using block references in bulk and keeping all fleeting notes

It’s a tour of Roam, but I think the way he uses tags for permanent notes is exactly how RemNote uses Concepts. If only there were a way to combine a block reference with a concept reference (hint hint [Implemented] Rem Reference Aliases).

Personally, I’m not convinced it’s worth giving up fulltext search to have absolutely everything in one program (I use hypothes.is and Memex to leave anchored annotations where I found them, though it is a bit annoying to hack together an outliner with markdown bullets. Alas, the only other option is Eloquent, which doesn’t preserve the anchors of where the highlight/annotation were taken.).


This is an interesting implementation of a Zettelkasten.

My favorite idea from the video is this quote:

The granularity of Roam [of Zettelkasten] is at block level references because it is build on closure [traverse thinking trails bottom up]. Not at the page level. It is not a markdown file. Even if it has bidirectional links.

This is why you always have to indent :slight_smile:

I don’t quite understand how aliases are related to this. Doesn’t the proposed system just work by simple (block) references. And maybe some block embeds aka portals (while portals have more friction in RemNote, see Transparent Portals aka Lightweight Transclusion (Portal Simplifications)).
And to navigate he used this nice inline block reference view which I don’t think can be replicated in RemNote.

Like I mentioned, he uses tags like remnote uses concepts: in front of a block of text. If you reference the concept in remnote, you lose the back of it. If you reference a block of text with an applied tag in remnote, the tag will not be visible in the reference. Aliases should be able to help by giving an option to show the back of a referenced concept as well (combining block reference with the concept in front of it that serves as a tag).

Funnily enough, his inline block reference view could be replicated perfectly by portals (since he purposefully indents all notes under a zettel, it’s a matter of expanding a portal), which do need the improvements you linked!

Why do I have to make it a card with front and back though? Why not just [[Index]] Summary of the Permanent Note?

What I understand is that you want to use a tag instead of a reference as it is more correct because the index should not part of the note text?

Here is a quick sketch using references instead of tags.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around what is linked/embedded from where.

Just using the functionality that is there. Note that references are useful for linking to the same thing from multiple places and to filter things by common criteria, but the way he uses tags is like concepts are used - unique names that are easy to search for.

I’m just trying to translate things into RemNote and pointing out where it falls short, none of it is more or less correct.

Here’s how I quickly translated it.

As you can see, the problem is that the portal doesn’t leave a backlink (we talked about that before though). Obviously, if it were possible to block reference with front and back intact, I could reference the zettels from the daily note to anywhere (and get back to their lit and fleeting notes by following that reference), but for the moment this is it.


In fact, the functionality I mentioned is there: you may right click a references concept and click show content to add the backs of concepts. Don’t know how i missed it.
Here’s how it looks.

So the only thing missing are portal backlinks, and it’s all good.

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bottom portal on the right in your pic, are you creating a portal to a reference of “This is a concept” on purpose? not just a portal to the direct concept?

I thought the point here is to

  • make each Zettel a card with extra structure (literature + fleeting slots + further nested children)
  • make portal/reference to each Zettel (eg “This is a concept”) from anywhere?

Is that the pattern you are talking about? (sorry I didn’t watch the 1 hour video and am not familiar with the terms, also I have never spent time reading a book on how to take notes)

If I’m rereading correctly, It was on purpose, but just for completionism’s sake. I was testing the ability ito show reference content anywhere, since at the time, only references and tags had visible backlink counters, so you would have to use references if you wanted to multi-add the same zettel to related ones and have a way to view all those related zettels from it. May as well test how references in portals with shown content looked. Since then, portal counters have been added, so you can just use portals to put related zettels in the related section of the target zettel.

Mind you, I’ve never done that, preferring to delete fleeing notes and use references for zettels (adding titles to them via concept :: a la evergreen notes), so the video is still your best source on what the results would be, much like “How to Take Smart Notes” is your best source on Zettelkasten in general.

Just to make sure I don’t get the wrong book, it’s “How to Take Smart Notes” by Sönke Ahrens? the guy who said he’s using Roam because it’s “most innovative and lean” ? Tools

What about the Evergreen notes by Andy Matuschak ? Similarities and differences between evergreen note-writing and Zettelkasten

The best place to get all the information you need is