The Art & Science of Copy/Paste

      How do you copy and paste?  A simple question, but for John Carter it's an opportunity for teaching us more about our computers.
        "One of the basic functions of a computer is to manipulate objects, and to do this with human intervention. We take a picture with a camera, copy that image from the recording media in the camera, and place that copy somewhere in the mass storage device in the computer. Then we print the image, which involves copying that image from the computer to the printer (a process hidden within the Print function). Next, we e-mail the image to a family member, which involves copying that image from the computer, place it in a package (an attachment), and push (send) it out into the Internet targeted to arrive at only one place in a billion possibilities. The receiver then has to copy that image out of the package (save the attachment) and place it somewhere in their mass storage device.
        "Copy and Paste. That’s the terminology for the task of moving an object using a computer. The steps involved are 1) select the target object, 2) copy the object to a clipboard, 3) select the destination, and 4) paste the object at the destination. This process reveals that a simple copy/paste operation is actually a select/copy/select/paste operation. Furthermore, the selection process involves navigation in and around the storage devices involved, and anyone new to computers are oblivious as to how to do that. On a Mac, navigating in and around the storage devices is done with the Finder.
        "So, if the attempt here is to teach how to do a copy/paste operation, what needs to be taken into consideration is the level of detail to include. The reality is that the more detail you fully understand about how a computer works, the simpler the instructions become to teach the process. And since there are basically three learning modalities involved in the transfer of knowledge (hearing, seeing, doing), the instructions should contain as many of those modalities as are possible for the instruction media chosen. Some people just need clues and their intuition fills in the gaps. Some people can read complex instructions and master the technique in minutes. Others need to see a live demonstration that they can then mimic. A fortunate few can listen to an audio recording and translate that into correct motor responses. Some will require a blend of two of those modalities. Still others need all three modalities involved and have to repeat the process many times before it starts to even make sense.
        "If you thought that learning something new was difficult, you should now be aware that teaching can be even more difficult."  (But we have to agree that John LIKES to teach!)
        "Mentors have been called upon as the most effective way to transfer knowledge. In a one-on-one situation, a mentor engages the student in all three learning modalities and tosses in a special ingredient: problem solving. If the student doesn’t learn how to learn, the mentor can be locked into a lifelong process of repeating the same thing over and over until the student becomes an automaton performing tasks with no real understanding and needing assistance with each new twist of the same old task.
        "The 'how' of a copy/paste operation has already been given above. Four simple steps. Select, Copy, Select, Paste. The Internet has many text and video tutorials to draw upon so there’s no need to repeat any of them here. But what can be given here is the hint on how to find those tutorials - with the assumption that the reader has enough experience with a computer to translate the hint into the fine detail needed to make the hint actually work. Hint: ask Google.
        "The question posed in a Google search (it doesn’t have to be Google; there are many reliable search engines) doesn’t have to be precisely structured, but it does have to have enough terms to enable the search engine to construct a query that has a high probability of returning a selection that will precisely answer the question. For example, to find a tutorial on how to do a copy/paste operation, the question should include terms that identify the operating system, the application, and the task. Like this: 'mac mail copy paste.' This returns quite an array of possible answers, including this one: 'How to Copy and Paste Text Styles in Mac OS X Mail - About Email.' If we wanted only video tutorials, we would put it this way: 'mac mail copy paste video tutorial.' The top hit for this was: 'copy paste video tutorial free download.'
        "But, some people don’t stop with just learning how to copy and paste a single object (an object can be an image, a word, a character, or a string of words or characters occurring in a sequence and may also include images associated with the words or characters - in other words, it can be very small, very large, very simple, or very complex, but the operative word here is sequential). They want more. Instead of copying a single object or sequence of objects, they want to copy two or more non-sequential objects. No computer operating system comes with that kind of power. Only one clipboard is provided for the user to copy objects into, and each time a new object is copied, the old object is deleted. So performing multiple, non-sequential copy/paste operations becomes just a series of single, sequential copy/paste operations.
        "However, there are a variety of applications, some free and some not free, that will give the computer special powers - multiple clipboards. What are the application names? Do a Google search. Try: 'mac multiple clipboards.' One hit: 'The Best Free Multi-Item Clipboard Managers for Mac.' The next step is to research each of the possible applications and decide which one to use. If the application provides user feedback or comments, reading those comments can speed up the decision process. The downside of using any multiple clipboard application 'bin' to save an object to or paste an object from. This can be a blessing or a curse, depending on your personal skill level in using a computer."
        John's conclusion, "The purpose of this article has been achieved. No final answer was given, because that’s the task set for the student. The best method of teaching is not to give away the answers, but to encourage the student to do his/her own research. Some people may not think they have the patience or skill to do research. They want someone to give them the answer, to show the way, to make their life simple and easy. But having a simple and easy life is best achieved by self-discovery of the processes learned by others that get transferred through lessons like this one."