Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Dalton Mabery!

Dalton is a YouTuber, video editor and tweet thread maker at 20 years old, trying to find the intersection between church and technology. His YouTube channel covers tech, productivity, and lifestyle with a lot of tutorials and guides on many networked thought thinking tools, including Roam.

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Norman Chella: [00:18:00] In this episode, we talk with Dalton Mabery, who is a YouTuber video editor and tweet thread maker at 20 years old, trying to find the intersection between church and technology, his YouTube channel, which is his name, Dalton Mabery.

This is on tech, productivity, and lifestyle with a lot of tutorials and guides on many network thought thinking tools, including Roam we talked about the dark times, how he stumbled into our own research. The tool,

his workflow, when capturing information in all formats, the notion of remixing past knowledge in order to create something original and new, we dive into The traditional definition of creativity and the roamcult and why he left it.

This is a topic that is extremely dear to me because roam research is a tool that is amazing. And with that comes a community. But to what extent can a community be welcoming Rome cult with its cultish vibes?

Can make a potential negative impression on loads of incoming users and can result in negative experiences. So I talked to Dalton about his experiences with Roam in why he moved to obsidian

so that we can learn from his experiences and really take the first steps towards building an inclusive Roam culture and Rome community. Just a little preface to this episode, this was recorded quite a while ago. And ever since then, Dalton has made the decision to come back to Roam Research.

Whew.  and there is a video explaining why. Mainly due to the block level features, but besides that,  I still feel that this conversation still needs to be heard. So without further ado, let's dive into my chat with Dalton Mabery.

Norman Chella: [00:01:59] We all probably coming in a very interesting angle, at least for me, mainly because you stop using it or you've stopped committing to it. I think it may be that that's a better way

Dalton Mabery: [00:02:10] Yes. That's a better way to put it. Yeah.

Norman Chella: [00:02:11] is a better way to put it. Um, because we, we don't know in the future, especially with all these new note taking apps specifically coming out and really giving birth to this amazing space that is network thinking tools. How they articulate it may be very different. And the communities that gather around these tools, uh, may result in a very different experience depending on, you know, what you're looking for, which is, which is fantastic. So we can always get right into it Dalton, welcome to RoamFM, are you ready.

Dalton Mabery: [00:02:48] Yes, let's do it. I'm ready.

Norman Chella: [00:02:50] Alright. Now normally start off with a little bit of time travel because to set the context for how you stumbled into Roam, there has to be a time when there wasn't no, no such thing as a network, thoughts thinking tool or network note taking app, in your workflow, in your life, in your work, et cetera.

So could you tell me a little bit of your origin story? How did you get obsessed just with note taking and stumbling into the tool Roam?

Dalton Mabery: [00:03:18] Yeah. So in 2017. I read a book. It was like the first book. That's the year I graduate high school. So it was the first book that I read for fun, so to speak. And, uh, it was just, it's so interesting to read a book for fun.

Like I just, it just blew me away how fun it was. And, um, I was working or interning at a church and so kind of leadership. Um, investing your time kind of discipline was a pretty big topic that I was getting taught. And so I stumbled across people like James Clear. Um, a lot of his writing, his book, Jim Collins, he's like a business researcher.

And so I read a ton of books from like 2017 to 2018, 2019. And. Didn't really do anything with that information, but, uh, but it was cool to say like I'm 19, 20 years old, like I'm reading all these books. Um, it was just like a nice thing to do, read a ton, learned a lot. And, um, I was like, but there was no community.

And I was like, there's gotta be a way for me to organize all this information. Like whether it be writing articles, writing blog posts, like people like James Clear, I loved because. He talked about habits, but it was from so many different angles. Like there's no way he came up with all that information.

It's all him, his thoughts and ideas, synthesizing pieces from other people. And how was, I was fascinated with kind of that way of thinking and writing and into kind of late 2019, I stumbled across Notion and was like, Oh my gosh, this is, this is it. Cause I tried Evernote, but it was, there was just no way to organize all the books and podcasts and articles I read like in an easy way.

So then I stumbled across Notion and I was like, this is it. This is the app. That's going to change my life. Like, so I loaded all my books and stuff in there and it was, it was still like, okay. Like, it was much better than Evernote, but it still is like, something is missing. I don't know what, but something is missing.

And I was listening  to the Ali Abdaal and his brother's podcast Not Overthinking. I don't know if you're familiar with them and his brother. Yeah. His, uh, his brother mentioned Roam. And I was like, this is it. Like, I've got to check this out. So he just talked a little bit about it. So, I got home Google, like roam note taking or whatever, and it popped up and I was, and I made like two pages.

I made a page for God in the Bible and I linked God to the Bible. And I was like, I was blown away, like flabbergasted at how like, Bible was automatically linked to God or like, whatever way I did, but I didn't touch it. Like, it just automatically happened. Like, how did that, that was, was like, this is, this is going to revolutionize my notes.

And this was in probably end of February, early March of this year. So right around like kind of quarantine COVID time. And I remember I was at a friend's house and I showed him and he was like, Cool. Like, he just didn't understand like how cool the backlinking was. I started taking some notes, doing some morning pages inside of Roam, and then found a couple of tutorials on YouTube, not a ton, but there were a couple.

And I was like, well, this is, and I'm a video editor kind of by trade. That's what I do for work. So like, this seems like a huge space for me to get into just creating tutorials so that I started kind of learning what I was looking. You're doing what I was learning on roam and then just making videos about it and then got up a pretty fun YouTube channel.

Now that's where I spend my time making tutorials on different apps and stuff.

Norman Chella: [00:06:30] Wow. Okay. I like that. You've tried it by doing page one, God, page two Bible, and then linking it. And I feel like I could visualize that it clicked in your head when it happened.

Dalton Mabery: [00:06:43] Yeah. Yeah. I remember. And I looked at the daily, the graph too, and I showed my friend. I was like, look at today's like March 1st in like Bible is linked to March 1st, but it's also linked to God and vice versa. And I remember writing a sentence with Bible in it. And I linked one more, one kind of block.

And then the next block, I wrote another sentence and I didn't link it. And I like showed him the unlinked, how it searches your database and shows you unlink stuff. And it was, it was so cool. I was, it was, I was blown away. It was brilliant.

Norman Chella: [00:07:11] Wait, wait. So was your friend also interested in note taking apps? So is it just a matter of just sharing? Oh, look.

Dalton Mabery: [00:07:17] Honestly, yeah, I thought he was, cause I showed him notion when I was super excited about notion I kind of have like four or five, like really good, like buddies, all of them were in my wedding and this was one of them. And he's like the most kind of. The only one really that knows how to like work a computer other than Google something.

So he's like a really good friend in that way. So I show, I thought he would love it, but he was like, cool, like let's move on with the evening type of thing. So it was kind of funny.

Oh, I'm really, I'm really interested as to why there wasn't really much of a response there. And I think it's because notion visually makes much more sense at first

Oh, 100. Yeah. Yeah. And he's a, and he's a designer graphic designer by trade. So like looking at Roam and its early stages is like, dude, that app sucks. Like it was not, not nothing compared to what notion had like visually.

Norman Chella: [00:08:02] Yeah. Roam is not the prettiest thing, especially. Okay. If we're talking about February, March at the time, it was still beta.

Dalton Mabery: [00:08:09] very new.

Norman Chella: [00:08:10] It was, it was ugly and people were hacking around with workarounds and CSS and only then the team was like, Oh, people want a prettier version. And then, then, and then people like more and more signups came about because they saw how pretty people's rooms can be. Um, but to get past the filter of. Despite the ugly UI, I can visualize how this can help me with my note taking workflow and I can visualize how, you know, the potential behind it because you know, the potential is what soul, uh,

Dalton Mabery: [00:08:42] right? Yeah,

Norman Chella: [00:08:43] sells it to a lot of room users. Oh, okay. I really, I really, I I'm still blown away by the fact that you just went page one, page two link. Oh.

Dalton Mabery: [00:08:54] And then I guess Remnote has been around for a little bit, and that, that kind of does the same thing and like Wikilinks or like Tiddlywink, uh, I think is what it's called. And I never used any of those, so that, it's just kind of like the automatic backlinking was crazy. Crazy to me.

Norman Chella: [00:09:08] And on that note, if I past the aha moment past, really, I'm not sure if you were secretly trying to persuade your friend as well to try to join, but I'm realizing just how powerful it is. We might as well go right into a workflow because at the time, because you may have a ton of use cases on top of it, and it may fit to many different contexts, but assuming that you have a lot of different kinds of things that you're interested in, or you also use it for.

Say a task list or project management or something like that, but could you walk me through your workflow if you find information on the net or, you know, on when Googling something, how does that go into your Roam and how do you process it?

Dalton Mabery: [00:09:50] right? Yeah. So when, um, when I was still using Roam going to preface that, um, I really, I didn't use it. I try to use it as a task manager in a, to do list. You could do kind of the check boxes. But I didn't like it at ton. It felt like way too much friction to add tasks and keep it all organized. So I, I kept that kind of like life organization in notion.

Roam was really my, um, kind of developing, developing ideas, taking notes on articles or podcasts. So say I would come across an article, say David Perell ral like wrote a new article on, on whatever David Perell writes articles on everything. Um, so if I was reading it then I would read it then if not, I would save it to like, Instapaper.

And what typically, I always keep everything on my daily notes. So if I come across an interesting article, I always write like, um, came across this article by, and then make a new page, uh, David Perrell on and then kind of give a topic, make a new page for the topic it's on. And I like to do that because.

I like to have that structure of every note is attached to a daily note page because you go to your daily of the graph overview kind of keeps it a little bit, a little bit more organized. Um, so that was kinda my workflow. And then I'll open that up and then add the metadata, like author, uh, source the URL notes, tags, stuff like that.

And then we'll just start reading the article in one window and then having my notes. Yeah. Kind of split screen up in the other window and do it. Um, like if the article was kind of split off into headings, I would do the headings and then go in and fill in information. And so any, um, stuff that was written.

By the author and he like basically direct quotes. I would try to paraphrase the best I could put in my own words. And then write that underneath the heading and any direct quotes I wanted to take, always highlight those copy and paste them, and then basically nest those underneath kind of my own thought because I didn't, when I looked back on my notes, I wanted to be able to see my own thought my own kind of synthesis of the article, and then be able to, to drop down the toggle, to see what the author wrote in his article.

Norman Chella: [00:11:56] I can, if I can visualize that, that's actually really amazing because you make it very distinct, which notes are yours and which notes are direct quotes and, or sorry, no direct quotes from the source so that you can distinguish between who is thinking in this block and where, where are my thoughts surrounding this block and, you know, nest that underneath.

And I guess that creates a really amazing thread of. Well one, how did I react or respond to this piece of information and two what can I do with that information? Do you actually do anything with the information once it goes out of Roam? Like if you apply to something else.

Dalton Mabery: [00:12:34] Yeah. So typically if. Usually there's a sub paragraph or a subheading in most articles that I want to write either write an article about or do like a tweetstorm about, I do a lot of like tweet threads. Um, so basically take a blog post and condense it into a tweet thread and, or make a YouTube video on it.

Those are kind of the three kind of, I guess my outputs of blog tweet thread, or a YouTube video. And so what I'll do is if there's a block or a quote or something that sparks an idea in me, I always had master pages. So I had like master podcast pages where all my podcasts were linked to, um, same thing for articles, books, uh, people that I tagged in my Roam and I would differentiate those from other random pages by using an emoji in the front.

So if I saw an emoji, I knew that was my master page. If that makes sense.

Norman Chella: [00:13:25] Okay. So the Master page would have its own level of organization, right. Because you have, ah, okay. Okay.

Dalton Mabery: [00:13:31] yeah. So, well the master page wouldn't have necessarily any information on it. It would just be a master page for me to back link to. So I had one page for blog, post ideas. In one for YouTube video ideas. So if there was a kind of a sentence or paragraph that I came across in an article, I would copy and paste that kind of paragraph, um, jot down my own thoughts and then tag YouTube video idea or blog, post idea, depending on which kind of one I wanted to facet through.

And then when I was ready to start researching the next YouTube video or start researching the next blog post, I would go to those either master pages and then look through kind of like, Oh, this. Paragraph in, um, one of like Tiago Forte's article on digital note, taking how to take a proper digital note, then I would go like, Oh yeah, that sounds interesting to me this week.

Or I want to make a video on that or blog post on that. So then I would go research that.

Norman Chella: [00:14:24] Oh, wow. Actually you're giving me ideas. I didn't think about using the Linked Inbox as a way to backlog ideas, because for me, what I would do is that I would have it all under one tag, not separate tags that are deferred by format.

Dalton Mabery: [00:14:42] Oh,

Norman Chella: [00:14:43] least visualize this. Yeah. I've just like idea the way that I would do it is prompt actually.

So anything that's considered a prompt, I tag it as prompt because it elicits some kind of response or some kind of level of thinking. And I would take it as a, as a prompt. And later on, I can look at just that one tag prompt and then look back at the backlog of all the total prompts, but then the way that I would filter it is that I would have A second separate tag. So hashtag video or hashtag blog,

Dalton Mabery: [00:15:12] Oh. And then filter

Norman Chella: [00:15:13] posts. Yeah. So it's two separate, but then actually it might be easier to, Hmm. It might be easier to have it this way, because that way you, you emphasize organization at the top by focusing it on the master page for ideas through a certain format, instead of.

Forcing an organizational structure through, Oh, this can be an idea, but, but then from there that's another step of what format can it be? Oh, okay. Okay. I like,

Dalton Mabery: [00:15:47] Yeah. And I thought about doing it that way too, because some, some of the articles or some of the ideas, they can be both blog posts and videos, but if they were to be that they would be too, like, I would take one angle on a blog post and take completely different one on a video.

They're going to be two different. Might be the same topic, but two different kind of paths. Um, and so that's why I would always do YouTube videos or blog, post idea. And then with the obviously differentiate with the emojis kind of helped me see, this is the right one. And I would do the same thing with quotes too.

Um, like I take notes in Kindle. And so I would export those from book session and then. Um, a copy of as, uh, markdown and upload them as Roam pages. And then if there's a quote from the book that I liked, or I wanted to remember it, then I would take that block. And then just backlink the map, my master quotes page.

So whenever I was looking for a quote or just wanted some inspiration or some funny, like, dude, then I would go to my master quotes page, look through the backlinks and see some fun quotes from books that I've taken notes on.

Norman Chella: [00:16:47] Ah, okay. I see.  well, you're giving me a lot of ideas. Wow. Thank you so much.

Dalton Mabery: [00:16:53] Yeah, of course. Yeah,

Norman Chella: [00:16:54] Yeah.  so you mentioned that you're worried about, you're worried about duplicating one potential idea. If you're doing it in multiple formats,

Dalton Mabery: [00:17:03] It's

Norman Chella: [00:17:03] Just now, when, if you were to, because you separated already by the very first tag or the very first hierarchy of tag by saying the, or specifying the format before you say, this is an idea, you say, this is a video idea instead of a, this is a blog idea.

Or instead of just saying an idea, and then it's a second format. Um, the reason why I don't do your method is because. I think of every single prompt or every single source of inspiration as speculative, and that sets a spine or what I call in my own capturing system, a skeleton, so that that skeleton can be reused or

Dalton Mabery: [00:17:43] used?

Norman Chella: [00:17:43] into different formats.

So, yeah. So the formats then will be tagged later on. Once I have one big, main piece of content, let's just say like a long form essay or something like that. If, if we go from like one quote, um, I mean, my assumption is this. If you and I look at the same quote, maybe it's something by James clear, we both want to write something about it.

Right? I take it. Maybe your best way to articulate your message would be either a really good YouTube video or a one really good blog posts. And. If you want to

do the other, would you have to duplicate that source again so that you can redo the whole process?

Dalton Mabery: [00:18:25] uh, what do you mean duplicate that source?

Norman Chella: [00:18:27] So if you have the same quote and you do you only stick to one format when you want to use


Dalton Mabery: [00:18:35] Oh, no, not at all. No. So I'll, if, if there is one, um, like, um, I'm now I'm in the process of taking my, all my YouTube videos and moving them to blog posts, just so I have kind of both. So what I'll do is I'll just tag blog, post ideas, video ideas, just next to it. That's there.

They're both linked. So it makes it easy.

Norman Chella: [00:18:54] Oh, okay. Okay. That makes sense. Oh, okay. No. Okay. Sorry. I just confused myself completely there. Oh,

Dalton Mabery: [00:18:58] no. All good

Norman Chella: [00:19:01] I like, I liked that we are. I liked, I liked the banter between different people's different note-taking systems because I've always looked at. People's abilities to try to create something out of somebody else is an expression of their willingness to remix something that they've observed.

And that's really, really huge, especially when, even if we look at the same source, we will interpret it differently. We will

Dalton Mabery: [00:19:25] speaking of blog, post ideas, that's that's one right there. You just said it.

Norman Chella: [00:19:29] Alright. Okay. Yeah. That's a, that's from. I, well, I remixed that from a, I think a documentary called everything is a remix, I think, which is something that you might be interested in. Yeah. I can send you that later on. Oh, let me, let me just write down. Yeah. That's um, everything is a remix is set on the foundation that, creativity is built on the foundation of other people's creativity.

So. Creativity is then defined as your ability to remix, synthesize and or blend in other people's works to create something through your perspective. And that in itself is creativity. It's funny that you brought up Ali Abdaal, because I've actually just had a call with him for RoamFM.

Yeah. So that's that episode is coming out in a few weeks and we were just talking about creativity. Yeah. Like we were talking about traditional forms of creativity, where everything must be original, but I see that definition being broken down, especially when we always look at a lot of these main evergreen sources of information,

Because there are tried and true, like years of knowledge from stoicism or years of knowledge from history and, you know, accuracy is a whole other thing, but at least these are. This is knowledge that is passed down. Um, and you have these spheres of influence that would share these sources of knowledge, but interpret it in their own way. And we look at them thinking, wow, they're so creative or like, wow, they're so great. But in actual fact they are great, but they are just really great at re articulating the value that is given by each knowledge.

Dalton Mabery: [00:21:08] Yeah. Yeah, there's a working. I mentioned earlier, I interned at a church, uh, currently work there now, but one of the theology kind of professors there told me, and I was obsessed with kind of apologetics and theology and like really learning, like the deep roots of it, like the old thousand year old roots.

And he was like, uh, he's like, listen, like Christianity has been around for 2000 years. If any, if anyone comes up with something like completely new, it's probably heresy. Like there was no new idea out in the world. There's just different ways of interpreting each idea that's been around in the Christian Church, which makes like different sermons from different people.

So great because people interpret them in their own way and then different, powerful effects on people who come see them or listen to them. Whatever

Norman Chella: [00:21:51] Hmm. Okay. That's interesting

that he worded it that way. Is it considered a new idea if it comes from no original source or does it, is it considered a new idea if you actually make the effort to trace it back to something as evergreen as Christianity, and the reason why I'm asking because To what extent can we create new ideas, like let's say 200 years into the future. Oh, 500 years into the future or a thousand years into the future. Are we going to see such a huge saturation of people who may not be, original thinkers

Dalton Mabery: [00:22:29] Yeah, I, uh, it's, it's interesting. Cause I I've been doing some research earlier on, on kind of personal knowledge management in that area and it's, I think they do a ton of academic papers, like written in the early nineties and they say it like, it begins with data. Like information begins with data or knowledge begins with data and then.

Each person adds their own original context to that data to get information. And then each person adds their own understanding to that information to get new knowledge. And then each person adds their own personal knowledge or adds their own personal wisdom to that knowledge. And then new knowledge formed basically.

So it's like. I think there, there can be a definition of a quote unquote, new idea, but most likely someone somewhere has thought about it, wrote about it, done something about it in. Super niche topic, but because you're taking your perspective and taking it from like grass fed only beef farming to how to take notes in a more productive way.

Probably a lot of the same systems there. They're just in such different contexts that the knowledge seems so different.

Norman Chella: [00:23:43] so then it will be more about the application of said knowledge in a new field and or application of set knowledge and a new, in a new context

Dalton Mabery: [00:23:53] eat?

Norman Chella: [00:23:53] or a different context altogether. And we see creativity or we see new idea in the differences between those right, is

Dalton Mabery: [00:24:03] Yeah. Yeah, I think so, because if you look on YouTube, like there's thousands of Notion tutorials, but each person explains how to use notion a different way and apply each different kind of function of notion in their own unique like skillset, which applies to a certain level of audience who now think that this YouTube creator came up with this brilliant way to use notion, but he just took something from someone else's.

Or from three different other people's and apply them in a different, like his own personal way. And

Norman Chella: [00:24:36] Yeah. And the differences may not even have to be that much, but it's, it's, it's distinct enough. That people would actually follow them as a result. Yeah, yeah.

Dalton Mabery: [00:24:47] And that's the key, like there's a there's have you, do you know, Austin Kleon is. Author show your work, um, or steal like an artist. And he's got a couple books and it's like, he says, steal don't copy. Like that's kind of his thing, like steal sources steal different sources and synthesize them, but don't copy blatantly copy.

Someone else's work. And, uh, Jack butcher today on Twitter tweeted some like entrepreneur Instagram took like blatantly stole one of his posts and just reiterated it, I don't know if you saw that, but it's like, that's not, that's not creative. No, one's going to think that you're genius for doing that. But like, so that's where the personal information, the personal stories, the personal context comes into play on century old ideas from stoicism, whatever into 2020 thinking

Norman Chella: [00:25:37] Yeah, I love this because we are going into a fundamental level or at least the most empirical form of what is considered mimicry and what is considered originality.

And in, I guess, from a societal perspective, It's kind of hard to simplify everything down to, are you original or are you not, or it's kind of hard to really boil someone down to whether or not they're copying or they're just following somebody else's formula, maybe it's with the intent to learn and that's perfectly fine.

Or maybe it's, you know, with harmful intent, as in they just copy everything, literally everything down to a hundred percent, you know, that shows their malicious intent to copy other people. And we circle this back to. Network thought thinking tools are. And then how you say it at this point, um, from the advent of Roam, we see the possibility for network thinking tools.

You can probably correct me if I'm wrong, but from knowing about Roam, I've become introduced to other alternatives. And, and I don't want to say competitor if there's any way, because we, these tools fit a specific use cases, but we have like Remnote, we have obsidian and we have, um, many other tools that have similar features and, or even the same feature, but.

There is a difference here, a difference there, maybe it's the people, I'm not sure, but that's distinct enough that people would gather they would rather gather to those communities or those sources as opposed to maybe Roam. So I want to talk about how you switched from Rome to Obsidian and Roamcult may hang me for this.

Uh, yeah, I am. And, and I'm, and I'm being very serious. So here here's the preface. This show is not affiliated with Roam Research. I have to be clear for anyone listening. Um, RoamFM is basically my contribution to, uh, of course hashtag roamcult, but, but the people around the network thought space that is a very clear distinction.

Sure. I have Roam in it and I may have a certain bias because I myself use Roam. But. I really wanted to ask about why you stopped using Roam and moved to Obsidian because that maybe throughout this conversation, that we can really boil it down to just how are people viewing the community in general? And if it's going to be something negative or it's going to be something positive or a mix of both, it's better to have it out there for people to know and be aware of so that we can work towards a better version or a more improved and positive and win-win version.

So. Could you tell me, why did you move out from Roam?

Dalton Mabery: [00:28:24] Yeah. Yeah. Thanks. Thanks for prefacing that I was, uh, just before we jumped on the call, I was telling my wife, I was like, honestly, say, I'm scared. I'm going to say something like around this topic, that's going to piss everyone off. And they're just going to all hate on me on Twitter. So I'm glad that you preface that, but, um, yeah, you kinda mentioned.

And the real reason I switched was the people, the people around. The app, the community. I saw a ton. I just, I don't want to say a ton, but quite a few instances, instances on Twitter with, um, like the founder of Roam, kind of the, the, the heavy, the power users, people who are super active on Twitter. And you could tell they Roam and just a lot of it.

I just rubbed me the wrong way. I didn't see it. Like very kind. It didn't seem. Like people were in it to help other people learn and, take better notes. Um, someone told me, I don't remember who it was, but they said it had like a very, uh, elitist vibe. I'm doing like air quotes. And that's kinda how it felt like I'm a part of Roam.

I use this for network thought and I'm use these, I embed blocks. So I'm better than you like. That's kind of like the vibe that me and like honestly, a lot of people have messaged, whether it be on Twitter or left a YouTube comment on the video. I made talking about why I switched from Rome research to obsidian saying the exact, just basically agreeing with me and saying the exact same thing and telling me stories of stuff that they either saw or were like involved with around the community.

So that was the main reason, uh, just the people, the community, and especially, and I love Rome. Uh, using it. Um, and I was, I kinda got in before the paywall and, but before they, they closed down the gate. So I was still like in the F I was, I could still use it for free and, but it was like $15 a month for that's.

That's a good amount of money to spend on software. Like, that's, that's a good chunk of change. And if I'm going to spend it, I want, I want it to be on something. I love a community. I want to support a company. I want to basically invest my time and money into. And I just didn't, I didn't find that with Rome and I didn't want to keep basically like sucking off the free version.

I didn't, I don't know something about that rubbed me the wrong way too. So yeah. I decided to make the switch over from Roam to obsidian and there were other couple other things, like having it on my desktop versus a browser. Um, for me, I just liked that a ton and not really a huge reason of why it just, I kind of prefer it over having it open and like Chrome or Safari.

Um, so yeah,

that's the main reason that was the people.

Norman Chella: [00:30:51] This is genuinely, I'm genuinely fascinated by this and, and I can see this elitist vibe myself. But I didn't want to bring it up. It's not like I'm scared of bringing up or anything. I wanted to. I wanted you to talk about it because you are a, you are a real world example of just seeing a community that is gathering around such a powerful tool and amazing tool.

And just getting a negative response to it, or at least a negative experience. And I don't want that to happen. And I'm not trying to, like, I'm not trying to drag you back, like, Oh, please come back. No, I, I, the reason why I wanted to bring this up, because we need to surface up instances where people are just being.

Elitist, uh, and, or unhelpful to other members of the Roam community, because Rome is so versatile that it can help anyone and everyone, regardless of technical ability, regardless of use case, regardless of whether or not you're a power user. Right. We have people who I think, yeah. I saw someone who was like retired and trying to.

Trying to upload their digital notes to save like their memory. Like that's, that's crazy. Like you're are you going to bash on somebody who's going to have a different use case than, you know, I absolutely despise elitist vibes. So seeing that come up in the Roam community is something that I absolutely hate. Uh, so, and if, if Dalton after this conversation, if anyone is messaging you to like, shit on you for leaving it.

You point them to me, I'm going to call them out. Cause like, I am really not a fan of this. It's like I can get quite emotional about this because I've had this happen in like other tools, enough, their software some years ago. And the last thing, the last thing I want to happen is for that to happen to somebody else who is just ousted by the community for, for not, you know, uh, bearing the Roam badge because they're not a power user and they're proud that they're spending 15 bucks a month.

Well, screw you guys like I'm in a developing country. I mean, I'm going to say developing country, but I'm in a country where it's like four times the currency. So I'm paying like a lot for Rome and, uh, not only in and on YouTube as well, I'm seeing other channels where there are comments by people who are sick of seeing Roam videos.

So I'm not sure if you've seen this, but if you know, the Keep productive channel. It's run by

Francesco um, who is someone I would love to talk to on the show, uh, on the

Dalton Mabery: [00:33:18] Yes.

Norman Chella: [00:33:18] He's got

Dalton Mabery: [00:33:20] try to

Norman Chella: [00:33:20] comments.

Dalton Mabery: [00:33:21] but I didn't, I didn't get a response. So

Norman Chella: [00:33:23] Yeah. He's, he's really busy and he's just had a kid. So yeah. So a lot on his plate right now.

Um, I've I watched some of these videos on Roam because obviously I'm YouTube surfing and wasting my life. But a lot of his comments, a lot of the comments have quite a number of backlash.


Roam they're

Dalton Mabery: [00:33:42] I didn't see that.

Norman Chella: [00:33:43] yeah, I can show it to you, like later on. Yeah. They're um, it's mainly the roam tours and keep productive.

Yeah. So they'll say like, I'll subscribed. If you keep showing Rome videos, I'm sick of Rome and they didn't specifically say why. But, but you can probably guess or predict that it's the overall impression of Rome. Like these are users who have not tried the tool, but their only lens into the tool is maybe keep productive channel and, or other YouTube channels around the note taking space.

So. As creators, you'd be in a position to want to tell people about Roam or about obsidian or notion, et cetera, et cetera. So it's a great place for them to hang around. But if they are sick of seeing Roam videos, there is something wrong there. Like, I don't think anyone anywhere has said I'm sick of seeing Notion videos because they can easily just like ignore it or something that.

Dalton Mabery: [00:34:44] Yeah, that's interesting. That's yeah, I'd be curious to know what's kind of behind that. And I know they did a, like a couple of, I guess probably a couple of weeks ago, Keep productive did like a roam week where every day they post a new video in Rome and that's what they did. Those two are. So it could be stopped posting videos on this, or there's something else kind of behind that.

So I'd be curious to know what's behind that as well.

Norman Chella: [00:35:08] Yeah. And I mean, I'd be curious to even like DM the commenters,  but then,YouTube comments they're  not exactly the nicest environments.

Dalton Mabery: [00:35:18] it's the word absolute the worst. I hate youtube comments.

Norman Chella: [00:35:23] So how are you handling a YouTube channel? Now, if you're doing a lot of,

Dalton Mabery: [00:35:29] Yeah. Yeah. So, so that's where I started was, uh, was Roam. And it was kind of cool because, I mean, I didn't really see many people kind of showing this app. So I just started ploading videos and saw, uh, a pretty good, like following an audience being built up, um, which was new to me because I was pretty new to YouTube and, It was cool because once I had kind of that audience of people note taking productivity, I was able to expand out a little bit from, instead of just doing roam videos, I could expand out and I could do roam and notion videos.

And then once I kind of got some notion users, then I could expand out from Roam, starting to notion in that a little bit out to more kind of, um, productivity slash task managing kind of like tips. And that's kind of where I'm at. Currently, I'm almost sort of like the Keep Productive kind of what they're doing.

I really love their channel. And I think it's really cool. They have kind of guests interviews on, I don't think I'm at a place now. My channel is pretty, still like pretty small where I could have a ton of guests on and I don't know if that'd be cool. So we'll see, I don't know, kind of staying in that like productivity and tech space.

Um, that's another thing too, is I've kind of expanded a little bit to talk about,  tech what's going on world tech slash startups. I'm fascinated with that. So I'm kind of mix that in a little bit as well to see kind of what audiences there, but. I've uh, I've got some interesting, interesting comments. Most people are pretty nice.

I got a comment yesterday that said, uh, I didn't know. Eminem's brother started a tech YouTube channel. Now that, that was pretty funny. I was like, that's a pretty good comment. Uh, but there was another one, there was another one. Some guy was like, stop talking so much. You, you like, you tell too many FN stories, just get to the point.

And there's people like that. Then I'm like, Why like, just skip it, like you, you can skip it or just go watch someone else's video. So I was YouTube commenters are hilarious. I always find it so fascinating.

Norman Chella: [00:37:23] but to be fair, if you're getting a variety of YouTube comments, I mean, as long as there's great positive ones, which I mean, Eminem was actually pretty good. Um, But to have negative comments, as well as positive comments, it shows that you are polarizing viewers and that's actually a very good thing because that's, that's a filter for making more videos for, to people who will like it as opposed to videos for people who, you know, who will rage on a keyboard

Dalton Mabery: [00:37:51] right? Yeah. Yeah. And there are, there are helpful. I got one early this week. Um, if somebody said, Hey, like, I love your videos, but you could like work on your enunciation a little bit. It's kind of hard to understand you. And I'm like, that's a great comment. Like it's kind of, it's productive. And even the other guys saying, I tell too many stories, maybe I do need to speed it up and get to the point, but there's like, there's just so many other ways to say it.

So, but yeah, that's a good point of trying to figure out kind of who my viewer base is and what I need to start creating more content around.

Norman Chella: [00:38:22] Yeah, it's getting the constructive comments are probably the best one to then I forgot there was a quote and I forgot the exact wording, but it would, it's something like your enemies will tell you the truth, no matter what or something along those lines, because it's to emphasize that sometimes positive comments or at least.

Comments from friends who have a bias with you or against you, because they don't want to, you know, risk your, their relationship with, if you may not tell you the truth, but enemies will always tell you the truth other than the usual trolls, because let's just disregard their existence for a second. And, uh, under the note of, um, getting guests for the show, honestly, you should just go straight in.

Cause it, people would love to talk about either Rome or even obsidian, or even notion even setups, or even have a great conversation. As long as you have the intent to publish it in a way where it's recorded. And I've noticed this when I was launching a new show, I barely had anything in terms. I mean, this is like show number four, number five or something like that.

But all I had was a landing page and an episode one, I mean, this is a podcast. So episode one is just explaining, Oh, what's it about why. Et cetera, what am I looking for? What kind of conversations? And there's a landing page. It's like, Oh, I'm looking for guests. They must be like this. This is this. And here are some examples of what I've done before.

Let me know what you think. And I think I got like 20 people applied and this is a completely different platform. It's like a, it's an old guest seeking website that is now defunct. So you can't find it anymore, but. But 20 people, like 20 people willing to like actually register. So if, if you want to get guests, you might as well just go straight into like, you know, cold DMing someone and saying, Hey, I have this channel we're growing.

You know, we're working on these kinds of videos. Would you want to get on a call to talk about this as this? And I'll upload it as a video? Yeah. Something like

Dalton Mabery: [00:40:14] Yeah. Yeah.

Norman Chella: [00:40:16] honestly highly recommend that you get guests on.

Dalton Mabery: [00:40:18] Yeah. Okay. All right. I'll think about it. I think a lot of it was, I mean, confidence, even when I started creating it was like, um, I don't have no idea what I'm talking about. I know what I'm doing,

Norman Chella: [00:40:27] Hmm.

Dalton Mabery: [00:40:27] I appreciate that. But isn't that kind of your background? Is it in podcasting? I thought you host another show.

Is that right?

Norman Chella: [00:40:33] Yeah. I like, I host like five shows, so I have like five to six shows under my belt and three of them are interview-based So reaching out to guests is really normal to me. And honestly the, the biggest secret is keep it short, keep it friendly and make it useful for them. Like, say like you've just condensed.

I mean, I can always like go straight into like techniques or methods or anything, but really most of the time when someone wants to guest on a show, they either want to engage in a conversation. Create something useful, which is, you know, an evergreen video or a podcast of off them sounding really smart and intelligent, uh, and are both right.

So if you have already a warm relationship with someone that you want them to guest on the show, or a guest on a YouTube video conversation or something like that, that's a lot easier. they would prefer reason one because they know that they can engage in an amazing conversation with you.

Whereas, if it's someone cold, you have to make it so that it's worth their time to spend one hour or with you, or, it's worth being part of their routine. Like as an example. Oh yeah. Yeah. Actually, if you worried about confidence, it's that you get rid of that ASAP by just cold, DMing someone big, like James Clear.

Because because 95% of the time, actually with James Clear, it will be like 98% of the time. He will say no, like he will reject you. Right. Get used to that no. Then you'll build your confidence. I built my confidence by just emailing high profile people and then just getting ignored, rejected and be like, all this is normal.

Right. Um, it's mostly around the, yeah, it's mostly around the fear of. The fear of rejection, and then you have to build that muscle of resistance of trying to go against that rejection. So What kind of a, what kind of guests are looking for ?

Dalton Mabery: [00:42:30] um, I don't know. That's I think that's something I have to think about too. Um, but yeah, I mean, I think I mainly love kind of productivity in tech, so I'm honestly, I'm looking for someone who wants to kind of banter about tech. Um, just like what's going on in the world of tech and startups. Do you know who Anthony Pompliano is?

So he does this, like the lunch money thing every day on YouTube, which I think is cool. I'm pretty sure it's his wife who he does it with and they just kind of banter about business, a tech kind of startups. It's a really fun kind of neat idea. So that's something I wouldn't, I wouldn't want to do it like every day.

That's not my, I love to do. Kind of have someone on either like basically a cohost or someone on like once a week and just talk to them about what they think about what's going on in tech. And then so, but that's kind of like the niche I'm trying to focus on is productivity slash tech. That's my area.

I'm trying to kind of continue to create and consume and build an audience around. Okay.

Norman Chella: [00:43:27] Do you have someone in mind? I mean, other than the high profile guests, but at least someone that you think is reachable

Dalton Mabery: [00:43:34] Uh, not, not, not really. I haven't given it a ton of thought yet. But, uh, we'll continue this. We'll continue this conversation. Cause I love to chat more with you about it

Norman Chella: [00:43:45] of course. Yeah. And, uh, well, I went on a huge tangent there and I have no clue where I am, but I do have to ask, um, on the video of, I mean, not to, not, to, not to crap on the elitist vibe or anything like that, but there there's something that you brought up in, in your YouTube video about moving from Roam to Obsidian, and one of the advantages for obsidian.

Is that your notes are future-proof. So that's a very specific way of describing that. And I would love to hear what's your take on future proofing notes and how can something like Rome or any other note taking tool, uh, take the first steps towards future proofing your experience?

Dalton Mabery: [00:44:28] Yeah. Yeah. So this is actually something I got from kind of the future proofness of someone in the Obsidian discord, some random person I asked like, Hey, what what's, what are some reasons you chose obsidian over the other eight, 10 good note taking apps there are. And that was someone's comment was the future proofness of Obsidian.

And I thought that fascinating because it's, it's true with, with notion, if for some reason, If notion crashes and this probably isn't gonna happen, it's an established software, but say if it were to happen, I would no longer have any of my stuff. Unless I back it up, download everything like every day or even like every kind of four hours onto like a Dropbox folder.

In markdown and you can do that notion, like I'm not gonna have any of my kind of, uh, video ideas. Like none of the ideas I'll have versus in obsidian. If something happens with the platform or whatever, I can no longer maybe access them in obsidian, but I still have all on markdown files on my laptop that I can open up in any text editor copy and paste them and make basically what I have in my obsidian and just make it Google drive, like folder kind of structured the same way.

And so the future proofness, the ability that. If I take a note, like now, as long as I maintain my software or my, it kind of hardware in my storage cloud servers, whatever, over 10, 20, 30 years, like my kids are going to be able to see that my grandkids are going to see like notes I took, which I think is just a really neat idea, which is something I never really thought of until this person brought it up in a discord.

Like if, and when Roam was down, um, before when the Gates were like closed, but before the paywall opened, it was really spotty. Sometimes it would sink. They had an issue with sinking and this is a while ago. They don't have this problem anymore. It's great. Still working great. But um, sometimes it would sync sometimes it wouldn't.

And if it, if you close the tab before it sync and cache to your browser, you would lose all the notes that you created. And so just instances like that, where you don't have that problem. With obsidian and you can export markdown files in Roam. I'm aware of that, but that's still you going in there exporting all of your folders every single day onto your desktop obsidian completely kind of takes all of that away.

Norman Chella: [00:46:39] Yeah, it's that parallel storage and or parallel saving that really works well with obsidian and. To preface. I also use obsidian. So that's, that's also something that people might not know. I use obsidian for not block specific notes. So once I export from Roam, I would have it as a complete note and, or make final changes on that markdown and I will have it on Dropbox

And it will always sync no matter what I do with it.

Dalton Mabery: [00:47:04] eat,

Norman Chella: [00:47:05] markdown files can be accessed anywhere. Um, Yeah. Uh, cause I'm sick of Google drive, but that's a whole other story, but yeah, uh, markdown files, I've always been working with it since, you know, ages ago, but I never thought about making it more cloud related, uh, especially with updated in Rome and notion and all of this. it's nice to know that it seems to It seems to be the future. It seems like insurance. Right? In case a company just dies or is gone.

Dalton Mabery: [00:47:32] And like the likelihood of that happening, especially Rome or Notion Evernote Evernote's been around for 15 years, I think, or maybe 10 summer, 2004. I think it was, um, like very, the likelihood of that happening is small, but I, someone in my family, I was doing some stuff on a Notion the other day.

And they were like, what happens? They're like, do you save that, like back that up anywhere else? And I was like, I don't really need to. And they were like, what if it crashes? And I was like, I don't know. I never thought about it's very likely, like, not gonna happen. It's just not, it's not how software companies work, but there's a small chance it could Y2K, it could happen.

Norman Chella: [00:48:08] Yeah. Yeah. It was like small chance, but what if right, and future-proofing is really just hedging yourself against that small little possibility and that small little possibility, depending on your risk adversity as an individual, it's more than enough for you to think. Okay. Let me back up every day and let me export everyday.

Uh, and I mean, I take it to you. You used to look at the Roam slack as well. In Roam Slack a lot of people would

Dalton Mabery: [00:48:32] eat,

Norman Chella: [00:48:33] backing up every day or exporting everyday to cater for

not even


but even syncing issues or even making sure that the cache on your browser is saved or something like that.

Uh it's it's crazy. I mean, we are in a, we are in a moment in time when from Roam I mean, I may be completely wrong, but from Rome, we are seeing other alternative apps that have similar features and we're seeing V1 of network thought tools and how people will articulate that sentence network thought tool in many different ways.

I'm really looking forward to something that focuses more on imagery or like visualized, um, Like graphic images or something like that. That'd be pretty awesome.

Unless Roam integrates

that then. Oh, well, is to an amazing future.

Dalton Mabery: [00:49:25] Yeah, no, I agree. I, uh, I mean even, I mean, I discovered Notion. At the end of 2000, 19, early 2020. And then here I am later with like a full thing in Notion and Obsidian. So it's even like new apps come up on product hunt, or I stumbled across an ad or something. And it's like, Oh, this is like Roam. It's a little bit different, but it's still like pretty similar.

So it's fun to see kind of everything

Norman Chella: [00:49:55] Yeah. And I'm sure that with your YouTube channel and your amazing tweet threads, you are going to be right at the front, uh, documenting all of this, uh, for us to look at. So we are coming up on time, but I have a few segments right. At the end, which, uh, hopefully you didn't prepare too much for it to make it a little bit of a, uh, interesting answer.

But the first question is how would you describe Roam to someone who hasn't started using it yet?

Dalton Mabery: [00:50:22] I would say it's like Wikipedia. It's your, it's your personal Wikipedia. That's that's how I've described it to people.

Norman Chella: [00:50:28] All right. Like a personal Wikipedia, if you try to explain Wikipedia to other people. That's also very difficult to do.

Dalton Mabery: [00:50:38] It's like a landing page, like go to source for any broad subject. Like if you Google, like today I Googled personal knowledge management and the first results always Wikipedia. And it's a bunch, it's a page with descriptions, but whenever a new topic or a new person or a paper gets referenced, That link is always clickable.

So you can click out and it'll either bring you to a new page where can read that subject, or it'll bring you down to the footnotes where you can click into kind of the bibliography on the Wikipedia page.

Norman Chella: [00:51:04] And, and even then for anyone who even goes to like Wikipedia for a general surfing or anything like that, It'll take a while for them to get used

to just surfing around Wikipedia, to realize the potential that it has so much information.

Dalton Mabery: [00:51:16] yeah. Yeah. It's not. Right. Yeah. That's exactly it it's like, like this, but for your own like no one else can see it. Like if you want other people can see it, but it's their own personal thing. Like have fun. This is like totally all your things. So that's, I've described it to family that way, like your own personal Wikipedia.

And I think people get it. I think people understand, but even to, to my friend, I was talking about at the beginning of this podcast, until you, like, you have a reason for it, like being shown, it being explained, it's like, eh, I'll pass on that. I don't really need that right now.

Norman Chella: [00:51:47] Yeah. And only once they have really had a taste of the potential of the tool, then there'll be like, Whoa.

And final question and a twist on it. What does Roam/Obsidian mean to you?

Dalton Mabery: [00:52:06] That's a great, I never thought about that. It's a good question. I think it really helps me, I guess it obsidian means to me, like a place. Where all of my reading, my kind of consuming goes to be created, like in obsidian, I'm able to create my own thoughts based on an article or a podcast I've read. And so it I'm an introvert.

So like the whole like stand at home quarantine thing, like it's been awesome for me. I've loved it. Just stay at home. Don't like, it has not been hard whatsoever. Um, and so like really getting into my thoughts and my ideas and different kind of concepts I have like means the whole world. Like that's all I have.

I love to think about and kind of create, um, just cause I'm so in my head kind of philosophical all the time.

Norman Chella: [00:52:55] fantastic. And having that actually put on the screen for you to have a look at it and process it

Dalton Mabery: [00:53:01] Yeah. Yeah, it makes it tangible. It's like, I'm not just wasting my life reading books. My dad makes fun of me all the time. Cause he's like, you read books. It's like for what? Like what do you do? And so it makes it like tangible. It's like, no, I'm getting, I'm getting knowledge just as like school. Like that's kind of what it is.

This is school for me. Like being able to educate myself and then So I think Obsidian will be, probably your solution to build your own school for yourself right?. Oh,

Norman Chella: [00:53:29] I love that.

Dalton Mabery: [00:53:31] Yeah, I would say so obsidian, maybe a mix of a couple other apps but Obsidian would be the main one.

Norman Chella: [00:53:36] And with all of these apps put together and your own ecosystem of capturing everything and creating something out of it. Dalton, thank you so much for being on here. If we want to reach out to you to contact you, to talk about anything that really we discussed in this conversation, especially on the issue of roamcult and I, I will call it an issue. Because I am not a fan once again.

Right. People be nice. Play nice. What's the best way to contact you?

Dalton Mabery: [00:54:04] Yeah. So, uh, Twitter is probably the best base to reach out. My name is just Dalton Mabery. So just like it's spelled D A L T O N M A B E R Y. Or you can check out my website,

Norman Chella: [00:54:20] All right. Both your Twitter and website. Of course, all of these will be in the public roam graph or right below. So Dalton. Thank you. And I will see you on Twitter.