Re. Memory

Subject: Re. Memory
From: Richard Farley <rtfarley -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 7 Apr 1996 08:20:30 -0700

On the subject of differentiating between memory and storage, Chris Hulin wrote:

>From: Chris Hulin <chrish -at- CTL -dot- COM -dot- CY>
>Subject: CHAT: memory

>The problem with using "memory" as a general term for all types of volatile
>and non-volatile data storage is that readers with a smattering of computer
>knowledge may apply their own half-correct meaning to the term, and pick the
>wrong meaning for the situation. I tend to understand RAM when I hear
>"memory", and disk/tape etc when I hear "storage", but I'm sure others
>assume a different meaning. I think it is better to be specific. If I really
>need to general, I would express the term in a much more human oriented
>term, maybe "remember".

When I am attempting to clarify computer terms to a new user I use this analogy:

Think of your hard drive as a file cabinet where you keep folders organized.
The folders are the directories on your hard drive that organize the
contents specific to each subject, in this case an application program.
The files within those folders are the files and programs you use to do the
work in that application.
Memory, or RAM, can be thought of as the desktop where you place those
folders when working with them. The larger the desktop, the more folders you
can work with at one time. (I try to hold off on a description of ROM at
this point, unless the user requests it. Excessive clarification can often
times muddy the water.)
A CD-ROM is like a portable file cabinet where you keep specific information
for work you plan to use elsewhere, or need only infrequently.

To call the brain memory is misleading, as is calling the brain the mind.
For clarification, the primary goal of technical communication, terms that
are descriptive of function should be used. The terms can be flexible, but
should remain descriptive and accurate. To lump all data handling components
in the computer as memory is neither accurate or clarifying. IMHO.

Whew, all that mind activity from a brain that is on the first cup of coffee.

Go in peace. Go with purpose.

Richard Farley
rtfarley -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com
"That writer does the most, who gives his reader the most knowledge,
and takes from him the least time." Colton (1780-1832)

Richard Farley
R. Farley Consulting - Technical Writing & Business Communication
2728 El Pasado Dr.
Modesto, CA 95354
rtfarley -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com

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