The meaning of the word "copy"

30 Aug 2010 - 12:19am
3 years ago
5 replies
782 reads
johnk
2010

I had a weird experience with the word "copy".  We use MS Exchange and Outlook, and all the email is stored on the server.  Outlook is the client that views the email on the server.

A user was having some problems with it, and I said something like "well, it's just fixing it's copy of the email."

She then asked if she could delete the emails, since there's a copy on the server.  I said, "no, if you do that, it'll delete it on the server too."  She then said, "so it's not a copy."

Well, it's a synchronized copy.  So it is a copy, but not a separate copy.  But, this gave me some pause.

On a network, data is copied all the time.  I refer to these copies as "copies".  For example, I think of the data in your web browser's cache as a copy of the data on the server.  You copy the page and graphics when you view the page.  When you move a file across disks, you're copying it first.

This user, on the other hand, thinks that copies are objects which are separate, manipulable objects.  Manipulating a copy will not cause the original to change... or the original will not overwrite the copy.

To avoid this kind of confusion in the future, what word should I use instead of "copy" or "to copy"?

Comments

30 Aug 2010 - 9:55am
meenalc
2009

Dont worry, you are not alone. This happends when the IT people talk with the non-IT ones. 

For your case, 2 sentences will be required. "The server mail is a dependent copy. And if you delete the original, this one will be deleted too"

This is what I would do, as in my experience: i needed to break down the idea and explain it to the client. Sometimes one word is not enough as many people may not get what synchronize means.

In case someone has a better idea , am all ears :)

31 Aug 2010 - 7:05am
pratimag.65
2009

Well, I think It can also be termed as 'mirror copy' or 'mirror image of original'.
Pratima

On Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 10:14 PM, meenalc <meenalc23@gmail.com> wrote:

Dont worry, you are not alone. This happends when the IT people talk with the non-IT ones. 

For your case, 2 sentences will be required. "The server mail is a dependent copy. And if you delete the original, this one will be deleted too"

This is what I would do, as in my experience: i needed to break down the idea and explain it to the client. Sometimes one word is not enough as many people may not get what synchronize means.

In case someone has a better idea , am all ears :)

(((Pl
30 Aug 2010 - 11:05am
tessa
2008

you may try the word "instance".But it may be best to explain the difference between an instance of what is reflected on the server versus a separate, malleable entity.

On Sun, Aug 29, 2010 at 10:36 PM, johnk <johnk@riceball.com> wrote:

I had a weird experience with the word "copy".  We use MS Exchange and Outlook, and all the email is stored on the server.  Outlook is the client that views the email on the server.

A user was having some problems with it, and I said something like "well, it's just fixing it's copy of the email."

She then asked if she could delete the emails, since there's a copy on the server.  I said, "no, if you do that, it'll delete it on the server too."  She then said, "so it's not a copy."

Well, it's a synchronized copy.  So it is a copy, but not a separate copy.  But, this gave me some pause.

On a network, data is copied all the time.  I refer to these copies as "copies".  For example, I think of the data in your web browser's cache as a copy of the data on the server.  You copy the page and graphics when you view the page.  When you move a file across disks, you're copying it first.

This user, on the other hand, thinks that copies are objects which are separate, manipulable objects.  Manipulating a copy will not cause the original to change... or the original will not overwrite the copy.

To avoid this kind of confusion in the future, what word should I use instead of "copy" or "to copy"?

(((Please l
31 Aug 2010 - 2:08am
johnk
2010

I had another conversation about this incident with another coworker, and gained some more insight.

But, getting back to the initial experience - I ended up explaining what was really happening between the client and the server, explaining it in terms of synchronization.  That caused her to say "it's not really a copy."

During this second conversation, that phrase came up again.  So, these people definitely think of copies as independent.  If a file can be synced, it's not a "copy".

These people are not "noobs".  They use computers, own them, use spreadsheets, can do pivot tables, all kinds of email, etc.  They're just not IT geeks like me.  It's just that their idea of a "copy" is an indpendent duplicate.  This is reinforced by real-world copies, copy-and-paste, "Copy of somefile.txt", and other uses of the word "copy".

This second person gave me a real insight.  He said that sometimes, you are seeing a copy that's not updated, in a web browser.  The server is getting updated, but to see the latest information, you need to refresh the page.

So that might be a way to explain it.  The distinct term for a dependent copy, or instance, might be "cache".  Though "cache" is a technical term, it's also a precise term within the context of network software. The cache is a local duplicate of data that is stored elsewhere on the network.

2 Sep 2010 - 8:59am
Justo
2010

It sounds like the user's mental model was not correct for the system. If they learn a new model, perhaps they need to learn the new concepts and terminology to understand it.

There are 'local' and 'hosted' copies. When you used the word 'copy', I assume you had a context identifying which one it was, but the user didn't understand that there was difference.

Sometime people just have to learn stuff!

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