Re: [Tails-project] #8948: Reconsider the terminology around…

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Author: sajolida
To: Public mailing list about the Tails project
Subject: Re: [Tails-project] #8948: Reconsider the terminology around "persistence"

u:> On 30.11.19 12:30, sajolida wrote:
>> We'll do more tests once we have mockups of the illustrations and I'll
>> most likely test it again with non-native English speakers.
> I think it would be useful to rethink what meaning we actually want to
> convey.
> I've had a discussion with Enrico about this and we noted that in moving
> from "encrypted persistent storage" to "Persistence", one loses entirely
> the notion of a safe place where one can store files, and is left with
> only the idea of persistence - as opposed to volatile or amnesic. One
> even loses the meaning of the storage here.
> So, in order to convey meaning about what this space actually is, Enrico
> came up with "locker". Which one could extend to "file locker" for
> example. This keeps the meaning of having to use a key to unlock it, and
> makes it clear that files can be stored safely there.
> macOS calls some encrypted storage "File Vault" [1], ansible calls a
> similar place the "vault". Vault means "safe repository".
> Synonyms of vault that I found are: strongroom, safe deposit,
> depository, repository, treasury.
> Synonyms of locker would be (treasure) chest, repository.
> I think these words could also inform the illustrations as they are
> quite visual.

Thanks for putting some creative thoughts into this!

For me, moving away from the root word "persist" is out of scope for
this discussion. I thought that I had mentioned this in my opening post
but I see now that I didn't. Sorry for that. Here are some of the
reasons why:

- We have used variations of "persistence" since 2012. Most of current
and past users are used to it. Changing this radically will imply some
important changes, and possibly confusion for them.

It's only vaguely related but we've been writing Tails (and not TAILS)
for 8 years but the wrong spelling is still living a life of it's own.
Through online forums, the writing of others, word of mouth, digital
security training, etc. Old habits die hard.

If we change to Locker, let's say, people will keep on using
"persistence" (or any of its variation) for years outside of our own
writing. Many users will be confronted with a mix of both terms when
learning about Tails, possibly leading to serious confusion.

I don't think that sticking to any variation of "persistence" will
have this problem. People are already using their own variations and
might keep doing so without causing severe confusion around them, at
least not more than today.

- We have the word "persistence" embedded very deeply in our code.

If we change the user-visible terminology but not the terminology in
the code (or path names), we will create other avenues for more
inconsistencies and confusion. Advanced users might still be
confronted with "persistence", for example in our own doc (see for
example, `git grep TailsData_unlocked`). We might keep saying
persistence in our internal communications, on Redmine, on
tails-testers, etc.

Changing the terminology in the code would require a huge amount
of work. It would be work that the Technical writing (and UX) team
won't be able to do themselves. Renaming such things in code tends to
open very big can of worm.

Moving away for a variation of "persistence" would be a tremendous
amount of change for both users and developers and should thus imply a
tremendous improvement to be worth it. I don't think that it's the case.

To solve some of your concerns, I think that it's useful to keep in mind
that such words don't exist out of the blue but always in context.
For example, the word "cloud" is not in itself a very good metaphor to
describe a place to store things, still it works fine and people adopted
it pretty easily.

In the case of Persistence, the fact that it is "safe" or encrypted can
be conveyed through context as well. For example, the word Persistence
will be introduced and explained on our website and, most importantly,
when creating one and setting up a password for it. To be able to use
Persistence users also have to enter their password every time they
start Tails and click "Unlock". The same button could be label "Unlock
Encryption" if we wanted to insist more on the safety of it. We might
find other similar tricks whenever needed to reinforce other aspects.

These are just some examples that lead me to think that it's better to
use a simpler term by default, while making sure that the whole concept
and its properties are also made clear to users by other means.

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