Peanut butter sandwiches

Subject: Peanut butter sandwiches
From: "Nancy Smith" <smithcds -at- ici -dot- net>
To: "'c. brown'" <frameguru -at- yahoo -dot- com>, "'TECHWR-L, a list for all technical communication issues'" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 5 Nov 1999 11:11:12 -0500

Perhaps it was I.

I said that when interviewing candidates for a
technical writer position, I asked them to think out
loud and tell me how they would explain "How to Make
a Peanut Butter Sandwich" to an audience who knew
nothing about peanut butter. (I got the idea when I
was working with southeast Asia refugees who had
never seen peanut butter.)

If the candidate asks me a question, I remind them
just to "think out loud" about what their questions
and about how they would present the information. I
do NOT say anything about jelly or marshmallow fluff
or a glass of milk!

What I learn from the response is:

-- How they ANALYZE the audience and what
ASSUMPTIONS they make about the audience -- what
questions they ask themselves; what their
user-advocacy attitude is likely to be.

-- How they would present and word a step-by-step
procedure -- how detailed and organized they are.

-- Whether, on their own, they either think I SAID
"and jelly" (tells me how carefully they were
listening) or whether they offer it as an option
(added value and creativity). Some have even
presented the option of cutting the crusts off the

It was fun, wasn't technical, and I learned a lot.
I never had anyone "flunk" because by the time I
interviewed them, they were already reasonably good

I have no idea whether this would be at all useful
in explaining the task of technical writing to
someone else! (They might just think it's foolish.)

Nancy Smith

-----Original Message-----
From: bounce-techwr-l-10572 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
[mailto:bounce-techwr-l-10572 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com]On
Behalf Of c. brown
Sent: Thursday, November 04, 1999 2:14 PM
Subject: RE: How to decide which font to use for

Afew days/weeks ago.. (my head is in a fog as to
someone posted a nice idea about having a group of
folks write about peanut butter.jelly sandiwiches as
way of explaining what a techwriter does...
does anyone have a copy of the post?
or would the poster, please repost

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