Should You Interview Job Candidates Via Slack Or TikTok?

This week The Founders talk about new hiring paradigms, virtual conferences, and the stock market. Plus, does Roam dress your notes in the world's finest UX, only appreciated by the best and brightest, or is it really just a wiki strutting around with no clothes on?

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Josh's Blog
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Full transcript:
Ben:
So I had the first session of a conference that's happening online next week. It's the Business of Software conference.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ben:
And it's happening Monday through Wednesday. But on Wednesday this week, they had the replacement for the meet and greet, the night before kind of thing where you just go and socialize, and meet other people that are at the conference. And it was of course, it's all online this time, it's not in Boston where it has been in past years.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ben:
And so, the meet and greet was done on Zoom. And I was skeptical this was going to work out very well because big Zoom meetings, they're just not good. No one ever talks because everyone's afraid to talk over somebody else. But actually, it turned out really, really well. They did breakout rooms. So, they had at first everyone together, it was 50 people or whatever. And then, they did breakout rooms of five people, so you could actually just meet a couple of people at a time. And that was just great, and did a couple rounds of that. So, it really was the best ever type of meeting for conference like that. It's much better than yelling at people in a bar.

Josh:
Yeah. Well, you and I have always talked about the mixer events that they throw where the night progressively gets louder, and you eventually lose your voice.

Ben:
Right? Yep.

Josh:
Yeah. That's cool.

Starr:
And I mean, half the work for me in those events is creating my own breakout group anyway because the only way you actually get to talk to people is if you wrangle five or six people and get them away from the DJ, and just have a conversation with them.

Josh:
So, this does the work for you.

Ben:
Yep.

Starr:
Yeah.

Josh:
So, did you... How did they organize the breakout rooms? Was it in Slack or something, or did they have a list of them that you joined?

Ben:
No, Zoom apparently has this feature called Zoom Rooms.

Josh:
Oh.

Ben:
And you can just randomly assign segments of people into rooms.

Josh:
Oh, okay.

Ben:
And so, you just switch from main group-

Josh:
You hit a button?

Ben:
Yep. Yep.

Josh:
Huh.

Ben:
And in fact, you don't even... I didn't have to push a button. Whoever was running the show, pushed a button and all of a sudden, now I'm in a smaller room.

Josh:
Wow. That's cool.

Ben:
Yeah, it's pretty cool.

Starr:
Did they have moderation inside the breakout rooms, or was it a free for all in that small group?

Ben:
So, Mark who was running the show, he gave us some instructions for splitting off into the rooms. So, he wanted each of us to introduce ourselves, and come up with a question. And then, basically, once we got into the rooms it was like, "Okay. Go. Figure it out." And the first round was... Didn't work all that smoothly because no one knows what's going on, right? But then, we came back from that, we chatted a little bit about how it went, and so we came up with some new parameters like, "Okay, you should probably take just two minutes." Rather than the whole time because it was only a five minute window. So, the second round went a little bit better, smoother. But yeah, so there wasn't moderation. There was just like, "Hey, here's what you should go do. Go do that." And then, they corrected a little bit after there was some confusion. But yeah, it worked out really well.

Josh:
Nice. Were you already planning to go Business of Software before the pandemic, and they switched it?

Ben:
Yes. Yep.

Josh:
Okay.

Ben:
Yeah. So, I haven't signed up for any online conferences since the pandemic started because I just thought that they wouldn't be all that great.

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
But yeah, this one I had signed up for before. I even had the tickets purchased. And so, that's a thing where now I have a credit rather than a refund, and that kind of gets me.

Josh:
Right. They didn't refund any of the purchase price, I assume? They just switched it to online?

Ben:
Yep. Yep. That's right.

Josh:
Okay. Yeah, that's a pricey virtual event.

Ben:
It is a pricey event.

Josh:
Ben. Knowing... Yeah, if it's past rates.

Ben:
Yeah, it's the same as past rates. So, it is kind of a pricey conference. It's in the upper end of the ones we typically attend.

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
But it's a great conference to attend. If you're an entrepreneur, if you are involved with software in any shape or form, as a product manager, or as an engineering manager, it's a great conference to go to really take a break from your business, and hear from some great thought leaders, and get some good ideas. Each time, I've come... I've done this twice before I think, and each time I've come back with ideas for how to make Honeybadger better, and I think it's been really good. Really worth the investment.

Josh:
Yeah. The other attendees are like us I would assume too. Do most of them have established businesses, or are there a lot of people that are in the starting phase?

Ben:
No, I'd say the people there are more established.

Josh:
Okay.

Ben:
So, you're talking about businesses that are much larger than ours, and that have been around for 10s of years.

Josh:
Okay.

Ben:
So, it's not a lot of people who are in startups. But you know, the business software forums have been around forever, and these are that same kind of crowd. So, you get a lot of people who are working at fortune 500 companies and so on.

Josh:
Okay, nice.

Ben:
Yeah.

Josh:
I'll have to check that out one of these years.

Starr:
I've noticed it for virtual events. I do a weekly group on Zoom, and it usually draws a pretty good crowd. About 40 or 50 people. And comparing it to other less formal groups I've been a part of, it seems like structure is really the key to an enjoyable group experience in Zoom.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Starr:
And basically, letting people know what's expected of them. Like Ben mentioned, when they went into breakout rooms, the moderator was like, "Okay, here's what you're supposed to. Go figure it out." And so, it's like everybody has a task to work on, or everybody... Everybody knows what they're supposed to be doing. The places where I struggle on Zoom meetings is when it's people that I'm not really super familiar with, and there's no structure, and you're just supposed to talk.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Starr:
That's just when I tend to go into crickets mode.

Josh:
Yeah. That's the kind of thing that makes it hard for me to even show up in the... My problem is I need to... The risk to me in a virtual event is that I just won't open the Zoom in the first place because there's not much resistance there, you could just not.

Starr:
Oh, yeah.

Ben:
Yeah.

Josh:
So, I don't know. There's some commitment that has to happen if you actually go to a conference, and you're debating going to the networking event or whatever but then you force yourself, and once you're there, you can't leave. You're there, and you have to figure it out.

Ben:
So, one of the downsides to this conference though is that since it's normally held in Boston, and since the people who are running it are actually based in the UK, they're still keeping the Boston schedule. So, it's starting at 8:30 in the morning Eastern time. So, even though I get up early, and I'll already be awake for that, still, I'm not usually up for Zoom calls at that time in the morning. So, that's going to be a little rough.

Josh:
Yeah. That is early.

Ben:
Yeah.

Josh:
That is early for a Zoom call.

Ben:
But if you don't mind me derailing a bit from the conference thing, Starr, you said about having these loose conversations and that can be a problem on Zoom calls. I've had that same experience but it made me think of something that I saw twice this week from two different people regarding Zoom. Well, tangentially regarding Zoom. And that was, the idea that, if you were doing interviews for a job, which we've done via Zoom recently because that's what you do.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ben:
Actually, we've always done that because we're a remote company, right?

Starr:
If you're the interviewer.

Ben:
Right. But the two comments, both said, "You should interview people in the same context in which you'll be working with them." So, don't interview them on Zoom if you don't use Zoom on a regular basis in your business. If you're in Slack all the time, then interview them in Slack. And I thought-

Josh:
Oh, that's cool.

Ben:
"That's interesting." So, I wanted to see what you two thought about that.

Josh:
Hmm. Yeah, I don't know. I could see having them join some Slack channel for a period of time, and have some sort of format for interacting. Does it mean... Would you keep the same interview format but just have it over chat, or would you... Is that what they were saying?

Josh:
Or, would it be like... Would you invite them to your Slack for a week, and be like, "All right."?

Ben:
I think it was closer to the latter.

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
As opposed to just doing the interview questions in a Slack channel.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ben:
I think that the notion is, "Bring them into your workspace for a while, and work with them as a colleague, and then you get a really good feel for how they would be as an employee."

Josh:
Because what comes to mind for me is... Because we've had pretty good success with the take home projects, we've liked doing that with people. Which is great because that does imitate how we work, as individuals on projects. So, giving them a project, and they go away and work on it for a while, and if they have questions, they interact with us like we would with each other. But I could see that fitting pretty well. That could be the pretense for the Slack invite. So, forget the... Maybe do an initial saying hello, a short thing but we could focus on, "Okay. We're going to give you this project. Come hang out in our Slack for the week. We're going to interact... Try to hang out, and interact, and talk about the project, and share what you're working on and stuff." And that could be the foundation for the interview in air quotes.

Ben:
Yep. Yeah, and since we pay people for their time, and their working on that project, it's basically like you're paying to have that person show up as a contractor for a while with your business.

Josh:
Unless you're Basecamp, they don't pay.

Starr:
One thing that might be difficult for people regarding that is, if they have a job, it's going to be difficult to show up in another Slack during work hours doing work.

Josh:
Yeah. That does.

Ben:
But in our case, we're pretty asynchronous, right? So, just because we say, "Show up in Slack." Doesn't mean we expect them to be there during work hours. That's just what we use for interaction. So, oftentimes, we'll just drop something in Slack and just wait for someone. Whenever they show up, they show up.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). You could also do it over Basecamp.

Ben:
Yeah.

Josh:
Have some sort of Basecamp format for... Maybe have them write some longer form things on the project and about who they are. We could just send them the set of questions over Basecamp. At that point, you're basically back to interviewing people over email with a fancy UI.

Ben:
I just thought the concept was interesting, in not even having that in-person Zoom call if you're not really a Zoom company. Because we aren't really. I mean, we hang out every now and then but I just hadn't ever thought of the idea of not having a face to face chat with someone as part of the interview process.

Josh:
Yeah. I still think that I'd want the face to face in there somehow. Because I mean, for one, we do. We're on Zoom right now and we do weekly Zooms.

Starr:
Yeah, I've had Zoom calls every week, or every day this week.

Josh:
So, we're talking like we never use Zoom but we do. But then again, all the things that people talk about, like the benefit of... I mean, one of the reasons we've tried to do more face to face is just that it's nice. It is nice to be able to have visual queues, and even just for the social aspect of it. So, I mean, I'd want some form of probably face to face as a part of the interview process. But it doesn't have... We could... I think there's definitely room to not have it be a series of Zoom calls.

Ben:
Yeah.

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
Thinking about this idea, there's been something that's... It's bothered me but I've been trying to figure out... I've been trying to put my finger on what it was exactly. And I think my problem with this idea is that it is going down that route of making an employee a cog in the machine, right? It's like, "Well, if you want to see how well the cog is going to work in the machine, just put it in the machine and see how it works." But the thing is, at least personally... While I understand that an employee, employer relationship is a financial relationship, and it's not your family, or your best friends or whatever necessarily. While that's true, I don't want to necessarily have employees be just defined entirely by their output. By their work output. I want to have at least some kind of a human connection with people.

Starr:
So, it would seem weird to me to skip the human part. Even if the human part is just not even necessarily used to make the hiring decision but just... I don't know, to connect with people. There's a similar... One thing I've noticed is that a lot of people who write for us in the blog have been like, "Oh, you want to do a Zoom call? That's weird." Because most people who do blogs, and hire external content, they don't actually get to know the authors really. It's all just very transactional. And that just leaves a bad taste in my mouth because it's just... I mean, I don't know. Maybe it produces the results that you want but it just seems sterile to me, and not really the place I want to work.

Josh:
Yeah. That's a good point.

Ben:
Starr, you are definitely the humanity side of our business.

Starr:
Oh yeah, I'm the humanitarian. It's okay.

Josh:
Well, maybe... It could be a generational thing here though because the younger generations, their communication is memes. So, bringing the chat into the picture could actually be a better way to express ourselves than face to face communication in the future.

Starr:
Oh, yeah. Do I sound like a boomer? We have to do a phone call, let's just hope on a quick call.

Josh:
Okay, boomer.

Ben:
So, Josh, I thought you were about to say, "So, we should have our applicants in that their submissions as TikTok videos."

Josh:
Right. We only interview over TikTok. And we won't even see your video unless it's good enough and it shows up in our feed.

Starr:
We just look at the TikTok home page every day, and if there's a video there addressing us, we will respond to it. I mean, that would be a... That might be a good approach for a marketing person maybe, I don't know. A content creation person.

Josh:
Yeah, that would be a gauntlet for sure. Yeah, that's like making someone sell you for the sales interview or whatever.

Starr:
Oh, yeah.

Ben:
Right. Well, not that we're hiring any time soon but I just thought that was interesting.

Josh:
Yeah. We could. We could be hiring sometime soon, I don't know. You never know.

Ben:
We could actually. I was looking at the budget this morning. I was like, "Oh, we actually do have budget for somebody."

Josh:
We've got a conclave coming up, our quarterly meeting. So, we could talk about that then.

Starr:
Yeah. I'm not entirely sure the sky's not going to start falling soon.

Josh:
Yeah. I'm not jumping to hire right now.

Starr:
Maybe let's wait a few months before we make any big decisions on that.

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
Well, speaking of the sky falling, my stock portfolio is very heavily weighted on the tech side. So, I have been feeling the pain.

Starr:
Oh, has tech been going down lately? I forget.

Ben:
Yeah.

Starr:
I haven't checked.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ben:
Really got pummeled over the past week.

Starr:
Oh, true.

Josh:
Yeah. Oh, did you hear, Starr? What was propping the market up? Because that came out.

Starr:
Oh, no. I haven't heard. I haven't heard.

Josh:
It was SoftBank, right Ben?

Ben:
Yeah. Yeah.

Josh:
SoftBank was dumping... What? Was it risky trading? Basically, just dumping money into the market.

Ben:
Yeah, just buying like crazy.

Josh:
Yeah. Buying like crazy and no one knew. Well, I mean, no one knew it was them. People knew this was happening but it wasn't... Yeah.

Ben:
Yeah.

Starr:
Didn't that happen at BitCoin? Isn't that what happened at BitCoin?

Josh:
Probably.

Ben:
Yes, that's pretty much exactly what happened.

Starr:
Yeah, okay.

Josh:
Yeah. And I mean, I'm sure this is not the last time, or that it's even stopped.

Ben:
Right.

Josh:
But it's... We've talked about this. I mean, this is kind of I think what we said was happening, it's just we didn't know who the culprit was this time.

Ben:
And we talked, I think, a couple of months ago about how we totally expected this to happen. So, corrections happen, you just have to ride the wave and keep on doing your dollar cost averaging, and trying not to refresh your portfolio page every five minutes.

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
I don't know. I'm looking at the price of the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index, and it's still what it was in February.

Ben:
Yeah.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ben:
Yeah.

Starr:
It hasn't tanked.

Ben:
But if you look at Nasdaq, which is very tech heavy.

Starr:
Oh, okay.

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
You can see it's been not kind this week.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Starr:
Oh, yeah. But still, I mean, it's the same as what it was. It's higher than it was in February.

Ben:
Well, yeah. But it was a dramatic reversal.

Starr:
Oh, okay.

Ben:
It was going up, and up, and up unexplainably until the SoftBank thing came out. And then, it's like, oh, pop.

Starr:
Yeah, it went slightly down.

Ben:
Yep.

Josh:
Yeah, you should at least have corrections during a worldwide economic crisis.

Ben:
Yes. Exactly.

Josh:
I would imagine.

Ben:
Corrections are healthy.

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
Yeah. All this is really... It's really opened my eyes about the stock market in a lot of ways. So, I read a lot of books, like the... Oh, shoot. What's the name? The Intelligent Investor. The Benjamin Graham guy.

Josh:
Benjamin Graham. Yeah.

Starr:
Yeah. The Warren Buffet. It's like, okay, stocks are tied to economic value of a company. And so, the stocks of a country should be tied to the economic health overall of the country, and that's just not true. This is a lie, right? And thinking about it, it makes sense because all the people who... Not all the... But most of the people who are more or less in the same boat that we are, professionals who invest in stocks and do stuff like that. On the whole, that group isn't doing too bad. So, I guess, it's when that group starts doing bad, then people are going to start selling stocks whereas right now, it's mostly people in lower income brackets that are doing bad.

Josh:
Well, a lot of people like us apparently are speculating in stocks right now, that's part of the other... The reason for the volatility right now.

Starr:
That makes sense, yeah.

Josh:
A lot more people are doing risky trading.

Starr:
Because they're bored at home?

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
Basically, yep.

Josh:
Exactly. And then, at the same time, it's become so much easier to do. And then, fractional trading, it's becoming a thing now. So, people can get into with less dollar figures anyway.

Ben:
Yeah.

Starr:
And also... Oh.

Ben:
As I will say, and you combine with that 0% interest rates. You can't make money any place else, right?

Starr:
Yeah. And also, I imagine there's lots of people who have been doing okay financially. If the market goes down, they're just going to buy. So, that's going to keep the market from going down.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Starr:
So, I don't know. Overall, I don't-

Josh:
Like me throughout the pandemic.

Starr:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Josh:
I did, by the way, recently shift some of my money out of stocks. Actually, very recently. So, yeah, I'm not going to stop investing in stocks, or in the market but it's going to be volatile for a while.

Starr:
Yeah.

Josh:
It doesn't hurt to boost other forms of savings.

Starr:
That's true.

Ben:
"Buy gold. Buy gold now."

Starr:
Buy gold? Oh, yeah. Sure. Don't buy gold. Yeah, when the pandemic started, I basically took out most of the money from the stock market that wasn't in a retirement account. So yeah, I'm still glad I did that. It's nice having a little bit of extra cash in the bank just for security and stuff like that.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ben:
But yeah, definitely recommend the Total Market Index for your 401K, or your IRA for sure.

Josh:
Yeah. Well, see, I mean, we've talked about this but that's the only thing I'll invest in, period.

Ben:
Yep.

Josh:
I don't buy individual stocks. But I've even shifted money out of that. Not totally though. Even if you're buying the entire market, still, that is a basket, if all your money is in the stock market, it's still all in the stock market.

Ben:
Right. Right. So, speaking of money. Josh, you're paying for a note taking app. And so, I want to know, why?

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
Because there are a gazillion note taking apps and...

Josh:
Well, the simply answer is it's not a note taking app.

Starr:
Wait, what's a note taking app? Are you talking Roam?

Josh:
Yeah, Roam. Roam Research. So, roamresearch.com.

Starr:
Every time you bring this up, I hear that song, that Bangles' song, like, "Roam if you want to." You know that one?

Josh:
Well, they probably embrace that, yeah. There's all kinds of Rome puns. Most of them are R-O-M-E. It's R-O-A-M, is the spelling. But yeah, they use it as Ancient Rome, or all that stuff.

Ben:
So, yeah, I wanted to ask you about this because I just listened to the Art of Product podcast where Ben was talking about using Roam.

Josh:
Yeah, I saw that title. I haven't listened to it yet. Was it good?

Ben:
Yeah, it was good.

Josh:
You have to say it's good because they might be listening.

Ben:
They might be listening, so yeah, it was awesome. But no, it was good. But Ben was talking about using Roam, and why he finds it interesting. He kept coming back to this graph thing, and talked about this graph of nodes.

Josh:
The network thought type thing?

Ben:
Yeah. And as he was describing it, maybe I just wasn't getting it because I haven't used Roam, and I haven't really looked at it. But when he was describing it, I kept thinking, "Yeah, it sounds a lot like a Wiki."

Josh:
Yeah, it is.

Ben:
So, tell me why I should pay for Roam as opposed to just using a Wiki.

Josh:
Well, I've never... Okay, so I've never used a Wiki, or I've never made an attempt at using a Wiki for my notes. Some of the features of Roam... I mean, Roam, the basic features are very much like a Wiki. I would say the main difference, and I could be wrong on this, and the userbility of Wiki's is just amazing, and that you can just write fluidly in them with zero effort, which is basically what Roam is like. But my assumption is that Wiki software is a little bit jenky. Like, what do I do to set up a Wiki? What would you use if you were going to set up a Wiki?

Ben:
Back in the olden days, there was this app called TiddlyWiki.

Josh:
Yeah, and that's still around.

Ben:
Is it?

Josh:
Yeah. So, I mean, that's what I'm thinking of.

Ben:
Yeah.

Josh:
Okay. So, that's what I'm thinking of. So, I have to go... What am I going to go do? I have to go spin up TiddlyWiki and... I mean, that's self-posted isn't it?

Ben:
Yep.

Josh:
So, I'm going to have to host my own Wiki, I'm going to have to manage the software. So, that alone, I mean, I'll pay someone to do that for me.

Ben:
Sure.

Josh:
But at the same time, I haven't used TiddlyWiki but from the screenshots, and what I've seen of it, a little bit like Wikipedia, or older software, right?

Ben:
Yeah, you get a text area, you enter some text, and that's basically it.

Josh:
Okay. So, Roam is so much more than that. It's like a modern... I would say it's... I didn't get it either before I was introduced to it. I was introduced to it by my friend Joel Hooks back in... He's been using it for... He was a very early adopter. I got into around the start of this year. And I didn't get it at first either, I was not sure exactly how to use it. But the more and more I got into it, and the more that it clicked, the more I realized... I'd say the closest thing I can compare it to, is probably the shift that happened with embracing Notion, which was a big shift for us because same thing with Notion, I was like, "Why would I pay..." And Notion is more expensive than Roam even. I'm like, "Why am I going to pay for this expensive app just to host my docs, or something that I have in a Git repo right now?"

Ben:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Josh:
But the same... Yeah, I don't know. It's a little bit of the same mental shift that happened with that, where in Notion you can create databases on the fly, and attributes, and all the things we love about it. In Roam, it's a little bit more focused. It is a little bit more focused on personal... Your personal thought process. But it is, it's like a Wiki but it's a very fluid way of building your own personal networked Wiki where you can write... You can just basically start typing in it, and write, and link up... The nodes in it... It used Wiki style syntax to link up nodes within your graph. It's a graph database basically. But you don't really think about it too much as you're doing it. So, it becomes a very fluid way to write, and actually, I found that it aids my thinking.

Josh:
As I'm taking notes in it, it helps me actually outline my thought process, and then connect ideas and that sort of thing. I mean, I don't know, I'm still... It's been a huge learning process of how to actually take advantage of everything that it does. And everything I've described is the very base feature set too. It has a lot of weird, interesting capabilities that I haven't even gotten into.

Ben:
Well, I guess I'll check it out. I've been reading your notes that you posted on your hosted site there.

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
And I've been seeing it popping up more and more. And I'm seeing these Wiki tag looking things, and I'm like, "So, why wouldn't I just use a Wiki?" So, okay.

Josh:
Yeah. Well, I mean, if you would be interested in using a Wiki, then I would highly recommend Roam because it's a very nice Wiki at the least. But if you want to do more of it, there's a lot more that you can do. For instance, they've got an entire community of people that are basically hacking... You can write JavaScript in it to change how it works for instance. That's one thing that's different from a Wiki. You can also theme it with CSS. It's got it's own query language built into it, so you can do a lot of interesting filtering because you can tag and reference things anywhere, you can do a lot of interesting queries on the data that you put into it after you've built up a large set of data. I mean, there's a lot more but they're not very good at... Well, this is intentional.

Josh:
They don't have a really good... You can't just go to their website, and you're not going to guide of how to do everything because they have this Roam cult marketing thing they do. This is the part that is... People will start to roll the eyes.

Starr:
I noticed one of their pricing plans is called believer and it's a five year subscription.

Josh:
It is believer.

Starr:
Yeah.

Josh:
I'm a believer, Starr.

Starr:
Oh, you are?

Josh:
I will say, I really do, I love it to the point where I actually was... I paid for the plan because I... Originally, I was on their free forever version before they actually started charging but I actually paid them for five years because I want them to be financially viable because I don't want them to go away, and take all my notes with them.

Starr:
So, I've got a question for you. So, I've been looking at the Roam website as we've been doing this. I've been looking at one of their sample... I don't know what you call it. Work books?

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Starr:
Whatever. And one thing that strikes me is that because it's a graph database situation because everything is so hierarchical, it seems like it would be really easy for me to lose track of what's actually in there. Because a lot of things are going to be hidden, right?

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Starr:
Because you write your document, then you link to 12 other smaller documents. And personally, for me, I know that after a month, I'm going to completely forget about those documents about the structure of this thing. And it just... I don't know. It seems like it would be hard for me personally to find things once I've made them. And this may just be personal preference but I just thought I'd ask you if there's something I'm missing.

Josh:
You might be missing the way that it does linked page references because... I've taken a fair amount of notes in the past using various things. Mostly, I've used mark down files. Before Roam, I was using Bear.app on the Mac, and IOS which was a note taking app. But I would say I would go back and find information that I'd taken in my notes or actually use it much less before I started learning to use Roam. And I would say that's mostly because of the way it does the nodes, and the inbound references. So, a while back, when I was... I had been working on HoneybadgerJS which is our JavaScript client library. I did a research project a while back on learning all about server side rendering, and what people are doing in React and Vue-land regarding server side rendering, and how to...

Josh:
Basically, what the applications are, and what the implications are for universal JavaScript packages because basically, if you want to build a JavaScript library for people that are doing this, it has to be able to run in both browser and server environments. So, I did a big research project on this. So, that's all in there somewhere. But if I happen to want to reference something, like in the future if I'm working on it now, whatever, four months later, and I remember there was some topic that was semi-related, I can go to that page and basically, it's going to link me back in a trail basically through my entire process of researching that topic.

Josh:
And it's because every... I don't... Well, I could just search for something and then go, and look through all my notes on it but I could also say, "Okay. Well, I'm going to go look at my page on server side rendering." And on that page, I'm going to see what I actually wrote about server side rendering itself. But then I'm going to see a list of linked references of all the courses I took on server side rendering, all the videos that I watched about various... How to do on various platforms for instance. And then, the notes that I took on those videos. So basically, you can follow the trail back just starting from any point in time... Or, I mean, at any point in the graph if that makes sense.

Starr:
Okay, yeah. Yeah, that makes sense.

Josh:
So, I don't know. It's nice to be able to basically start anywhere. Wherever you are right now in thinking about what you're looking for, you can go to that, and then, start to trace back through whatever your other notes on the topic were. It's almost a way to research your own research, or something like that.

Starr:
That makes sense, yeah. I don't think I've ever... It makes sense because I'm not... I don't really use notes like that. I don't really use notes as a way to document what I'm working on at the moment, or learning at the moment.

Josh:
Yeah. I didn't either but this changed that.

Starr:
Oh, interesting. Yeah.

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
Yeah. Okay. I'm curious, if you... I'm just going to ask a random question, and this is just my own curiosity but is it possible to... I don't know if you've ever used... I think it's Scrivener maybe, or Ulysses or somethere where you can essentially... If you're composing a story, what you can do is you can write these little snippets of story on these little "cards." And then, you essentially arrange them in whatever order you want. And then, the program will take the content of those cards and render it as one document, so you can look at it all in one piece.

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
Is that something that Roam can do, do you know?

Josh:
I believe so. I think Roam has a feature. I haven't used it but I think I saw it somewhere in passing. It either has it, or they're working on it where you can render cards on a board type thing but it's also displaying it as a... Everything is basically a list, that's the base format for the data. But yeah, it has a bunch of different ways to visualize the stuff that you put in. It can do tables, it can do different types of graphs and stuff. And yeah, it has features where you can split it out. I think it can split it out and show it on a board or something like that.

Starr:
Oh, okay. That's cool. Yeah, I just like the idea of... If you're working on a big article or something, being able to work on a little part in isolation, and keep it in isolation in your computer but then, essentially, have all your little isolated pieces concatenated to make the final document.

Josh:
Yeah, totally. And with the list... Because you write in a nested format usually, and you get used to writing like that to where you're basically outlining. And you don't have to do that, you could just write paragraphs and each paragraph is a list item that's just a flat list. But with nesting, you can jump down into a level and just focus on that block too which is nice. I use that a lot for... I've started... Because I actually used to... I made a few attempts at doing work journaling, where I'm keeping a running log of problems I'm working on, or things, thoughts that I have that I want to go back to. But with Roam, I've... So, one of the other unique things about Roam, is that it's centered all around a daily... It's called daily notes. So, daily notes is just a chronological, each day gets it's own document basically.

Starr:
Oh.

Josh:
So, it's like, the entire things... And you actually might like this, Starr. The entire thing centers around a daily journal basically. So, the daily notes is where you live during the day when you're using it. And so, everything usually stems from there. You start by writing... Taking notes during the day in this section but then, as you start to build references and things, and jump around, it starts to span out basically from there.

Starr:
Okay. That makes it a lot more interesting to me because yeah, I do... I've got my little bullet journal I use every day to keep track of what I'm working on, and make notes of things I need to do and all that.

Josh:
Yeah. So, my process has... Lately, I've been... I'll basically log a time stamp, and what I'm working on, and then I'll immediately just click into that bullet item, and it focuses just that item, and from there, I can basically outline as I work. I just keep it on the side of the screen, so it's really easy just... Tab over and I can write, tab back, and keep working. But it's all very... It removes all the other clutter of the entire graph of knowledge that you have basically. So yeah, it's nice, the different views that it has, that you can focus in on.

Starr:
Cool. Thanks for answering all my random questions.

Josh:
Yeah. Yeah, I'm interested, if you try it out, let me know. I am curious to see what you think about it. But yeah, and you mentioned Ben, lately, my side project, personal project, is building a static site from a public Roam database, which I'm using for... I'm thinking it might eventually replace my blog, or it's definitely a supplement to my blog, it's where things will start. But it's been really... I've never blogged this much before to be honest. I never was good at... There was so many steps you have to do to do a finished blog post. For most of them, I would just never finish them, or never start them. Or, even just committing them to my static Git repo, so I can deploy them. There's a lot of stuff that has to happen. And this, basically, I just write in a Roam database, and then it's published. And there's no pressure of having to have a finished piece, or even...

Josh:
Because things can change in it. If you want to make a change, you just go edit the page, and it regenerates your site. So, I'm really finding this... I really like this idea so far, of publishing a public notes thing as a blog. And the daily pages are actually... It works really nice because that's my blog index basically. So, the index is just basically like a journal.

Ben:
Sounds cool.

Starr:
That's really cool. It's like a journal that's live or something.

Josh:
Yeah. I'll link to it.

Ben:
Starr has not let that one go.

Starr:
What?

Josh:
Live. It's like some sort of live journal.

Starr:
I'm sorry.

Josh:
It's almost like you're a blogger.

Starr:
So, I'm sorry Josh, I'm not making fun of you at all.

Josh:
No.

Ben:
Awesome.

Josh:
Yeah. No, there is a lot of hype around this, and it's about to get even worse. They just announced their funding, and it's starting to go mainstream, and we're talking about this now on the podcast.

Starr:
Okay. Well, I can't do it then. I can't get into it, sorry.

Josh:
A lot of podcasts are talking to. This is where the true believers go somewhere else, Starr.

Ben:
This is where Josh holds up his Roam shirt. He had it before it was cool.

Starr:
Oh, there you go.

Josh:
Right.

Starr:
No, I'm just going to write an e-Book and how to most efficiently use NotePad.

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
NotePad Hacks for the clever 2020 Dennison.

Josh:
So, there are a lot of alternatives to Roam now. People have been talking, within the cult, people have been talking about all the other things, like the other extensions, or alternatives to Roam that people are working on. And VS, there's a VS code extension that basically gives you... It turns code basically into a Roam database that just works off of markdown files, which is interesting. And there's other things like that. Or, if you like to use Emacs then you could learn Emacs and use whatever... I forget what they call the extension for that.

Ben:
I noticed that Notion just released Wiki links as well to their project.

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
It's a total resonance for the Wiki man, it's coming back.

Josh:
It is. Yeah. Yeah, it is. And I like it. I think that these are pretty powerful features, and I'd like to see them in more tools. And yeah, I don't think it's going to... It's definitely not a Notion replacement. I mean, you could if you really want to. I think people are doing company Roam databases because you can, it's collaborative. So, I haven't tried that yet but you can invite your whole team to it for instance, and all work on the same database.

Ben:
Hmm.

Josh:
Yeah, I don't know. If y'all want to try that, I could... I have the plans, so I could probably just invite you to one.

Ben:
I don't know. We might have to just stick with our old fashioned Emacs and text files.

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
I would try it out. I mean, I don't know if I have the bandwidth now to change my way of working.

Josh:
I don't think we need to do any kind of big experiment with it. I'd say check it out on your own. It does give me new... Well, it's a good way to... You can take ideas that you learn in other tools like this, and you can implement them in Notion as well. I still like Notion as our company knowledge database basically. Yeah, I'd say it's worth checking out. I mean, assuming you want to be cool.

Ben:
And I'm sure you have an affiliate link that we can use to sign up, so that you get a kick back.

Josh:
I don't think... Yeah, I don't... They're too cool for affiliate links. You have to be a... You really have to... You have to buy in. You have to buy into the cult. I'm not a huge fan of the whole cult thing.

Starr:
I don't know. We need to get some of this cult stuff for Honeybadger.

Josh:
Honeybadger cult?

Starr:
Yeah. We need to-

Josh:
The problem is that there's no leader. You don't have a three headed cult.

Starr:
Oh, yeah.

Josh:
So, one of us would really have to step up as the visionary.

Ben:
I nominate Starr to be our leader.

Starr:
You don't want to have the first oligarchical cult?

Josh:
How about this? We'll start a public room... Well, not a public.

Starr:
I mean, that's Tesla. I'm sorry.

Josh:
We'll start a collaborative Roam database, and we'll work on our charter, okay, Starr?

Starr:
Okay, got it.

Josh:
The first charter of the-

Starr:
And the handshake.

Josh:
Yeah. Well, that'll be in there.

Starr:
Yeah. All right. I think I sense us closing up and getting ready for our big finale. And by that, I mean, saying that this has been FounderQuest. If you want to review us, go to Apple Podcasts and do that. If you want to write for us, or for Honeybadger, go to honeybadger.io/blog, look for the write for us thing on the page. Get in touch with me. All right. Well, all right, see you guys later. Have a good weekend, and we'll see you next week.



Copyright 2019 Honeybadger Industries LLC