If you are using a personal knowledge management system (PKM), you probably know about all the tools that exist on the market today. However, which one should you choose? Obsidian or Roam Research? Or maybe the open-source LogSeq?
In fact, you don't have to choose anything! Instead, you can use them all, because each has a certain advantage that others do not.
Roam Research vs Obsidian
Let's start with the pioneers. Roam Research made a lot of noise in 2020 when they appeared on the market. They really pushed the PKM field into some sort of niche mainstream, mainly thanks to their great Twitter presence and a loyal community of early adopters. However, RoamResearch has a huge problem: hubris. @Conaw, who runs the company, was very proud that they got to $1 Mln ARR in a few months and got carried away. Instead of focusing on the users' needs he was boasting how they're going to take over Notion. Roam Research doesn't have the same open-source spirit as its counterparts. You have to pay a subscription fee to access your graphs (let alone edit them). Their whole ecosystem is closed, and getting API access is impossible. Their latest mobile app was a flop. Checking their SimilarWeb stats we can see that their audience is on the decline. I wouldn't trust my data to a closed ecosystem that is not doing well and depends on one person's whim in terms of the product development decisions...
On the other side, Obsidian started with a totally different approach. Developed by a team of professionals, it had a free option from the beginning. It also works with your local folders, which means you fully control your data. It also has an open ecosystem, meaning that multiple plugins were created and are available as open-source. They have a great interface a listen to their users. For instance, Obsidian has a folder management system, while in RoamResearch all your notes are dumped into one folder. This could be an OK way to push people to think in terms of connections, but this simply does not work when you have more than 500 documents and different projects. Sometimes you need to sort things out using the good old categories. Obsidian allows you to do that, while the "extremist" Roam insists that this is not the way and you should use [[backlinks]] instead.
All this led to the situation where Obsidian has about 5M active visits a month while Roam is declining to 1M and further down. Also, Roam's interface stayed at the level of circa 2005, while Obsidian is sleek and modern. Finally, unless you pay some crazy monthly fee and get @conaw to give you API access, you won't control your files with Roam. While in Obsidian this is a default.
All in all, we recommend Obsidian over Roam Research. The only advantage of Roam is that it has a really well-developed backlinking system, but even that doesn't work very well because their graph visualization is unusable, so you can't get any benefits from that either.
Obsidian vs LogSeq
This one is much harder, because Obsidian and LogSeq are quite similar. However, each has a certain advantage.
LogSeq works from your browser on your local folders. This is pretty amazing: you can simply open a page in Chrome, point to the folder you want to work with, and you have a nice knowledge graph visualized.
However, LogSeq does not have folders or categories and this is where Obsidian is better: if you want to organize your knowledge now only through backlinks but also using traditional categories.
Obsidian also has a mobile app, while LogSeq is still working on one.
LogSeq is open-source, which means you can run it locally or on your own server.
Overall, we'd say that LogSeq is our current favorite, very closely followed by Obsidian. Oh, we forgot to mention RemNote — a great tool, but they seem to focus on flashcards for memorization and the interface could be improved. Finally, Roam Research is a great story of rise and decline and a good lesson for founders to stay humble.
Knowledge Graph Visualization and Analysis
Unfortunately, none of the tools have a usable graph visualization that actually works for more than just having an overview and navigation. However, you can export your knowledge graph and use InfraNodus Knowledge Graph analysis tool to find the main topics and structural gaps within your ideas, then use the built-in GPT-3 AI to generate the insight that bridges this gap between your Obsidian / LogSeq notes.
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