Swipe files and knowledge bases

A swipe file is a collection of tested and proven advertising and sales letters. Keeping a swipe file (templates) is a common practice used by advertising copywriters and creative directors as a ready reference of ideas for projects. Copywriters are not the only ones who can benefit from having a swipe file.

Do you keep swipe files as a ready reference of ideas for your OSS projects / operations?

They’re a record of what’s already worked, could be refined further or new ideas to test.

At an organisation level, swipe files help to accumulate and share knowledge. They’re otherwise known as knowledge bases, information management systems (IMS), wikis, etc. The challenge with these tools is in curating them, keeping them manageable and ensuring that great nuggets of wisdom continually get unearthed. Sometimes there is more effort allocated to maintaining them than is justified by the benefits they produce.

The key is ensuring that context is stored and indexed against (ie deriving feedback). For example, if a certain type of event comes up, the knowledge base not only has a record, but knows the context / history of similar events and can automatically recommend a set of actions to an operator. Without context and auto-prompting, the operator would have to choose to go searching for knowledge base entry that aligns with their current problem, not knowing whether a suitable entry even exists. Machine learning is definitely a target technology to help with this.

On a personal level, I use Evernote to store my swipe files, references and ideas. Many of my blog entries (including this one) start out as notes in Evernote. PAOSS.com itself forms a portfolio of swipe files that I regularly reference back to. The blog entries have not just the reference (eg the Wikipedia link above), but what I had in mind at the time and why it was relevant (ie the context and feedback).

I’d love to hear about how you search, store, reference and use your best OSS ideas (or if not yours, the ones you’ve swiped from elsewhere)…

BTW. I have no interests in Evernote. Nor does the reference to Evernote above generate any benefit to me (eg via affiliate links). It just happens to be what I use at the moment.


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