A loose collection of slips stuffed into a box.
Version: 0.9.2A slipbox is really just this: a loose collection of slips stuffed into a box. Each time you have an idea that seems worth remembering you scribble down a note on an (electronic) slip and put it into the box. Then you forget about it.
Operating System: Mac OS X
When the time comes that you need the ideas stores in SlipBox, the functionality of the application helps you to quickly find relevant slips and, what is more, relations and links between different slips.
SlipBox is a small but powerful program that helps you in this task and offers the obvious advantages of an electronic solution over a paper-and-pencil one: easier and faster access, easy searchability and reusability of the stored knowledge. In particular, the associative searches allow unexpected reuse of the available information.
Sure, there are bigger programs that let you do cool stuff for collecting knowledge, but they have a serious conceptual flaw: they require that you categorise your ideas and store them in a rigid format.
However, at the time when you set out to work on a problem (perhaps even over a period of years or decades) you do not know which categories will be adequate for your knowledge base at the time when you will use the knowledge.
Slip-boxes take the opposite approach. Take a frequent case: you have to write a term paper and don't know yet what you will write about. You read a lot of literature and talk to people.
You don't want to forget all those great ideas you have in this process, especially as you are not yet able to tell the good ideas from the bad ones (or the relevant from the merely interesting ones).
Your slip-box accompanies and supports this process after all, the concept was developed with such applications in mind.
It differs from other tools in that it not only does not require a hierarchical categorisation of the knowledge but also in that it is not centred around the idea of literature excerpts which is usually done in programs similar to SlipBox.
Instead, its core idea are the connections between the thoughts you find interesting and would like to remember. (SlipBox does not manage literature; you will need another program for that, but it can interact with such programs.)
So, the concept underlying a slip-box is extremely simple. Scribble a note and some keywords describing the content on an (electronic) piece of paper a slip. You put it in a box and forget it.
This is a process that extends over some time: weeks, months, years, decades. When you work on something (like writing this term paper) the SlipBox program does two things for you.
Associative searches: By browsing through the box in an associative search it helps you find new connections between the ideas you collected. The keywords you specified will help you make these connections, and the program makes it easy to go from one idea to the next.
Raw searches: When you need to retrieve some specific piece of information contained in the box, the keywords as well as the program's other search mechanisms make the search easy.
Associative searches are a bit like following hyperlinks on the web except that these links are not created manually. The connections between the slips and between the keywords are called scents, corresponding to the idea of information scents.
The slip-box has no hierarchical structure; it is self-organising. The keywords structure the box. So, to make the best use of your slip-box (and the SlipBox program) don't try to categorise your keywords, just write down, what seems important when you create a slip. You can always change the keywords later on.