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Once every ten or fifteen years, everybody gets really excited about a deeply-flawed reimplementation of like one eighth of the core Xanadu concepts by somebody who doesn't have access to documentation on the other seven eighths of them. The hype migrates out.
By the time the normies on HN hear about it, early adopters are already in backlash mode.
It looks like roam might be the version for 2020 (where evernote was 2010's, wikis 2000's, the web 1990's, StorySpace or maybe HyperCard for 1980, and first-generation hypertext systems like Andy van Dam's for 1970).
It's not a bad thing to be the decade's not-Xanadu. In fact, it's a pretty big honor. Still, I wish more of the people working on not-Xanadu would read more about actual Xanadu, because they could avoid big pitfalls that Xanadu identified and circumvented in the mid-60s.
Like, all these systems have mutable underlying content for... some reason. (No *good* reason that I can figure out.)

As the functional programming folks figured out & are now telling everybody, mutable content makes everything harder.

1) if content is mutable, then links rot

2) if even blind one-directional jump-links rot, transclusion is even worse. One day you're importing an important diagram & the next somebody has replaced it with goatse.

3) and you can't trivially replicate or cache it
How do you keep content immutable while having a vital, dynamic ecosystem? You rearrange the pointers to the content.

In other words: forget embedded markup, and instead do formatting & linking as an operation that works on pointers.

This is Xanadu 101 from 1965.
(And time after time, hypertext systems have failed at it. You'd think that anybody who can write a web browser will also know what a pointer is & what it's good for.)
Maybe roam does this better? I'd hope so, but I'm disappointed every time I hope. I can't tell without paying good money for software that's guaranteed to be a worse fit than the stuff I write myself...

Actual access to documentation on Xanadu concepts (in any kind of coherent way, with any kind of context) is hard! I understand. I spent years trying to figure this stuff out before joining the project.
Luckily I did the hard work of writing an introduction accessible to software engineers not previously initiated into the project:…

Read it. If you have questions, ask me & I'll clarify. You don't have an excuse for not understanding core XU anymore.
(And, Ted has been releasing more information than ever before, and more complete information than ever before. You might even be able to make heads or tails of the stuff on sunless sea pretty soon!)
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