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Tiago Forte
1/ If Roam fails this is how it will happen No product I know of has a longer history of failure than hypertext, as recounted in this article, so it doesn't exactly take a lot of imagination
It was the most radical computer dream of the hacker era. Ted Nelson's Xanadu project was supposed to be the universal, democratic hypertext library that would help human life evolve into an entirely...
WIRED WIRED @WIRED
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Tiago Forte Apr 12
Replying to @fortelabs
2/ First normal product-killing stuff: feature bloat (tons of bells and whistles but no core feature set that does a single essential job 10x better than anything else); team infighting over product direction; difficulty monetizing; growing too slow or too fast, etc.
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Tiago Forte Apr 12
Replying to @fortelabs
3) But there's a few dangers unique to info mgmt tools, especially advanced info mgmt tools, and especially this particular approach
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Tiago Forte Apr 12
Replying to @fortelabs
4/ Niche capture: the first, initial user base is so passionate, technical, loud, and single-minded that they don't allow the product to evolve into the mainstream. Happens with a lot of niche thinking tools made by programmers, who just want to serve other programmers
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Tiago Forte Apr 12
Replying to @fortelabs
5/ For products to truly go mainstream and become widely used utilities, they have to really water down their initial vision. LinkedIn was going to be "the marketplace for the new economy." Slack was going to kill email. They've succeeded but had to scale back ambitions
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Tiago Forte Apr 12
Replying to @fortelabs
6/ Second danger is that it's ahead of its time. Hypertext has been ahead of its time since the 70s. If it takes too long to build product out, more fundamental tech overtakes it and the window of opportunity for adoption closes. Has happened to DevonThink, The Brain, etc.
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Tiago Forte Apr 12
Replying to @fortelabs
7/ Incidentally this is why I prefer tools NOT designed for the narrow use case of "long-term personal knowledge management." That market isn't big enough to support ongoing product dev't so products get stuck in the era they were first developed. Happening to Evernote now
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Tiago Forte Apr 12
Replying to @fortelabs
8/ Next danger is UX design doesn't get easy enough fast enough. Happened to Workflowy and Dynalist. Learning curve remains too steep and advocates start sounding like crackpots, insisting ppl "only" need to spend 30 hours to learn it
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Tiago Forte Apr 12
Replying to @fortelabs
9/ Next danger is it's not part of a wider market or movement or trend, so there's no overarching metaphor for ppl to place it in. I'm helping with this as "Second Brain" is best one so far, but even simple thinking tools so far have been really bad at explaining what they do
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Tiago Forte Apr 12
Replying to @fortelabs
10/ Most thinking/creation tools get inevitably pulled from the early stages of creative process (capturing and organizing) to later stages (creation), because that's where it's easier to prove value and become indispensable
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Tiago Forte Apr 12
Replying to @fortelabs
11/ This is why note-taking apps never get very big. Unstructured data (i.e. early stage notes that ppl take) is never as valuable as later stage, output-ready data, like that produced by Adobe CS, MS Office, GDocs, etc.
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Tiago Forte Apr 12
Replying to @fortelabs
12/ So over time, the early stages, which are the first barrier to long-term knowledge mgmt, get neglected and have to be cobbled together with various apps, plugins, integrations, etc. Readwise is helping with this part but it's not pretty
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Tiago Forte Apr 12
Replying to @fortelabs
13/ Everyone I know that uses Roam also uses Evernote or another simpler notes app for capture. So I think they are actually complements. Over time, thinking tools will fragment into narrower and narrower use cases, as we adopt a different tool for each kind of thinking
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Tiago Forte Apr 12
Replying to @fortelabs
14/ There will still be dominant apps that everyone uses, but they will perform VERY basic functions. I think Roam would do better to embrace the trend, narrow down to the most specific kind of power user they can find, and charge a lot. Become the connoisseur's thinking tool
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Tiago Forte Apr 12
Replying to @fortelabs
15/ Another pitfall is that the first entrant in a new generation of software rarely wins. So if this is the new gen I prefer to see how it plays out, and then adopt the winner. There's no benefit as users to adopting thinking tools early, because the tool is never the bottleneck
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