Zettelkasten Forum

Thinking of merging BSAB & Zettelkasten... can Roam do that?

Hey guys, my name is Miles.

So about a year ago, I stumbled upon BSAB and Zettelkasten. Since then, I've been refining my processes time to time (and obviously falling off the habit of capturing etc).

The reason why I'm making this post today is to open up a discussion, or possibly explore the possibilities of a BSAB+Zettelkasten hybrid.

Before I begin, I'm going to assume everyone here knows what BSAB and Zettelkasten are and their respective objectives.

In short... (let me know if i got it wrong)

Building A Second Brain (BASB) is a PKM model focused on the capturing and digesting information with the objective of DELIVERING PROJECTS.

For example, a project could mean giving a 15min talk about self development, and then whatever I capture goes into there and slowly, the content expands and you have enough information to do the 15min talk.

Main App: Evernote.

On the other hand, Zettelkasten is more focused on IDEA EXPLORATION. Which means linking from a new idea to an old idea and finding the links between ideas captured in different topics and spaces.

For example, linking this article Pain Is Not The Unit of Effort and what Nick Luhmann thinks/feels when he was using his slipbox . "I only do what is easy. I only write when I immediately know how to do it. If I falter for a moment, I put the matter aside and do something else."


While I've been using Evernote to capture and digest ideas to create more content pieces and articles, I also feel like capturing ideas in the way how Obsidian works can help provide me better sources to get an idea across (simply because i am able to find super cool linkages between 2 completely different ideas)

My instant thought 10mins ago before writing this post was: is there an app or system that also celebrates and pushes an individual to do BOTH BSAB-style project focused organisation and also SINGLE IDEA ZETTELKASTEN style of note taking?

I haven't used Roam Research before, but is it possible to do this?

I like the way Evernote works right now.

Do you guys have any suggestions on how I can achieve both at the same time? Or do you all think I should keep things completely seperate?

Evernote linking sucks as it's not built for that purpose.

Thoughts? :blush:

It's my first post in this forum since lurking for a year. Sorry if it's too long.

I hope this post sprouts some great conversations that everyone can learn more from.

TL;DR: Does anyone have a one-app system that operates like a hybrid of both BSAB and Zettelkasten? if yes, how do you do it?

Thank you for reading,


  • @heymiles

    I may be wrong, but I doubt that many of the people who visit these forums have used Roam extensively, so this is probably not the best place to ask about it. As to methodology, one thing I have observed over many years is that the method is nowhere near as important as the person using it. Various acronyms are very good for marketing purposes, but I'm not sure they add up to much, unless they happen to suit the person and the task they have in mind, and that person is capable of using them. I believe it is usually best to develop one's own method, by analysing one's own needs and preferences. When all is said and done, basically we are just dealing with files on a hard drive somewhere, and as long as we can link them together in some way, and find them when we need to, we should be fine. After having dabbled with all sorts of programs and systems over the years, I find that simplicity is probably the best approach. I use a Mac, and I have been finding that a combination of Obsidian and Hook does pretty much all I need at the moment. But your needs may be different.

  • @MartinBB said:

    ...I find that simplicity is probably the best approach. I use a Mac, and I have been finding that a combination of Obsidian and Hook does pretty much all I need at the moment. But your needs may be different.

    Can you describe how you use Hook? I have a vague idea of what it does, but haven't really tried it out. Where and how does it help your ZK process?

  • @GeoEng51
    Hook will give me a Markdown link to pretty much any file or folder in the filesystem, which I can then paste into a note, allowing me to jump straight to that file or folder with a single click. It can also link to emails, and various items in various programs (there is a long list on their website). I seem to do quite a bit of planning in Obsidian, so I often collect links to material that I may need for a project in a "hub" note. That allows me to refer to material easily. Obsidian seems to have turned into a considerable powerhouse in a very short space of time, and I have been surprised at what it can do. Hook is useful for linking up to stuff outside the notes archive.

  • @heymiles

    PS: if you don't already know it, you might find it interesting to look at the "Linking Your Thinking" YouTube channel. There is an interesting interview with Ryan Murphy about "Integrated Thinking Environments". He is a Canadian doing a PhD which seems to link theories about information systems with psychology, and he is a prominent user of Obsidian. He has something to say about Roam (and other apps) in this article. And there is a presentation here that talks about some of the central ideas regarding information systems and Integrated Thinking Environments.

  • edited June 2022

    @MartinBB Thank you! Hook sounds like something I could use, so I will check it out (more than the cursory glance it already received).

    The links to articles by Ryan Murphy also look promising :smile:

  • @heymiles I don't think they are two different approaches that are to be merged. They are based on a very different philosophy (the ZKM is correct, of course... :smiley: )

    The false dichotomy shows when you think about projects. The ZKM can be geared towards a single project if you just process sources for your project and build you infrastructure around a single project. The tools are present within the ZKM (as I formulate it).

    The focus on a project is not something that is built into neither architectures (notes, folders, pdfs, etc.) but is part of the way you work (focussed or allowing for deviation).

    I am a Zettler

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