Slip addresses with a “/” in them

Sometimes some small little niggling piece-of-sand-in-my-oyster gets resolved, and all is right in the world. This is one of those cases. This is a tiny, but irrelevant if you don’t have a slipbox, little thing that was bothering me…


  • Every “slip” (which for my slipbox is a 3×5 card, but one could use anything) has a single address.
  • If a slip’s address is “address31” (that is NOT actually an address) it must be unique, because I’m going to note that address on other slips, as a way of saying “see also the slip at address31”.
  • There are two competing needs: The need to be able to infinitely insert slips between existing slips, and the fact that one cannot know the structure of the final assembly of slips. (Both because the assembly is never technically finished, and because you don’t know what you’ll assemble.)
  • The solution is a hierarchic address system. The address of my first slip is, literally, “1” then “2” then “3”. When I need a slip between 2 and 3, I go “down” a level: The address “2a” is between 2 and 3. I have slips with address like 4a800 — literally the 800th slip between 4a and 4b. I also have addresses like 4c1fi.

“4c1fi” is interesting. “4” is my commonplace book. “4c” is for slipbox indices. “4c1” is for people. (There’s a 4c2 for themes, like “farming” — I just stuck my finger in there now, and was surprised to find “farming”.) But what is going on with that “fi” part?

I mentioned above that “4a800” is the 800th slip under “4a”. Does that mean “4c1fy” is the fy-th slip between “4c1” and “4c2”? Yes, sort of.

Sorry, did I lose you with “counting with letters?” On the slip addresses, I’m alternating letters and numbers as the addresses go down in layers. So in the letter-based levels of an address, I’m using: a, b, c, d, e … y, z, aa, ab, ac, ad, … fg, fh, and finally fi. This is counting in base-26, using roman letters as the glyphs. “fi” is 159 in the more common base-10. So is “4c1fi” the 159th slip between “4c1” and “4c2”? Yes, sort of. It’s actually about the 20th slip between “4c1” and “4c2”.

There’s no reason I have to use all the addresses. Sometimes I want to pack some meaning into the address itself. That’s what’s going on with the slips under “4c1”. That “fi” in the address tells me the card contains {people whose name,} (that much I know, because I know “4c1” is an index of people,) starts with an “F” and whose next vowel is an “i”. That sounds nuts, I know. Let it go for today, because I’m about to get to the point of my title about the “/” in addresses.

Suppose I want to have the address on a slip tell me something, like a date?

Slips have a date on them— the date I created the slip and put it in the box. But what if I want to see, on the slip for farming (!) a reference to another slip… and I want to know something interesting about that referenced slip? What if I wanted to put the date in the slip address? October 4, 2021, for example, could be written as “211004”. (I’ll be long dead before 991231 rolls over to 000101 in the year 2100.)

One day, I decided to keep a slip for every recorded conversation I’ve done. That’s another blog post. That happened to be slip “3”. The slips under “3”—the ones for each recording—would then be “3a”, “3b”, “3c” and so on. But I wanted to somehow put “211004” in the address. :(

That’s what the slash if for.

Farming has a reference to “3/211004b” because “3211004b” would suggest I have 3+ million top-level slips. The slash makes it clear the address is “3”, then down a level to “211004”. (Then down a level to “b”, because this was the second recording on that day.)

So, I randomly grabbed “4c2fa”, which I discovered has “farming” on it, and which mentions the {second audio recording I made on Oct 4, 2021} (I can see that from “3/211004b”. flip flip flip Ah, yes, I now remember this conversation with Kate

Apertif: Here’s one way the slipbox grows. I was looking at the “4c2fa” card with “farming” on it, and another conversation popped into my head… with Chris Moran. There’s a slip for that recording — flip flip flip find Moran, who I can tell would be on “4c1mo” just based on his name, that mentions “3/181125a”, and I can see without even looking at that slip, that’s a recording from November 2018. And I just added “3/181125a” to the slip with “farming.”