Discussion Question- White Paper

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1. Describe a possible white paper for an external audience.  Keep in mind that, for a white paper to an external audience, you will not be writing to an audience for an organization of which you are a member.  In other words, you would not write a white paper to your boss about the need to correct a problem in your company.  That would be an internal white paper because you are a part of the company.

You would not write a white paper to the board of directors of your son's soccer league about the need to address a problem in the soccer fields.  That would be an internal white paper because you are a part of the soccer league.

However, you could write a white paper to other companies about a product or service that your company sells or offers.

Or you could write a white paper to soccer leagues around the country about problems in soccer fields. 

For example, let us consider an example of a person named Susan.  She works for a company that has developed a new method of training IT personnel.  She could write a white paper for companies that have IT departments.  The white paper might compare current methods of training IT personnel to the new method that her company has created.

This would be an example of an external audience, as Susan is not familiar with the individuals who will read her white paper, does not work for these companies, and is not involved in these companies.

Or we can consider an example of a person named Joseph.  He works for a company that had a bad experience in moving its data to the cloud.  He could write a white paper for companies that are considering moving their data to the cloud.  The white paper would discuss current reasons companies are considering moving to the cloud in light of the pitfalls of moving to the cloud that Joe feels companies should be aware of.

This would be an example of an external audience, as Joseph is not familiar with the individuals who will read his white paper, does not work for the companies that might benefit from it, and is not involved in these companies in any way.

2. Describe what terms you might need to define or what concepts you might need to explain for a white paper of the type you mentioned in task #1 above.  For example, a white paper that gives cautions about moving to the cloud will have to define certain cloud terminology for its audience.  A white paper that describes a new method of training IT personnel will have to define certain terms used in IT now.

3. Please read the following article on recipes:

Anderson, L.V. (2015, October 21). Kitchen nightmares: Why poorly written recipes drive me nuts. Slate Plus. https://slate.com/human-interest/2015/10/recipes-why-are-they-so-badly-written.html

1. After perusing the article, examine the following set of instructions for a recipe and answer this question: According to Anderson, what is wrong with each step?

  1. Place 2 lbs. of ground beef into the pot.
  2. Mix 1 cup chopped onion into the ground beef
  3. Stir ground beef.

2. Anderson writes the following:

Don’t take this the wrong way, but a good recipe is written under the assumption that the people who read it are idiots.

Is this good advice for technical writers in general when they write instructions for a task?  What problems or frustrations might occur if a set of instructions is written assuming the audience has no knowledge of the task when the audience does, in fact, have some background knowledge of the task?

For writing assignment #3, the recipe, Anderson’s statement should be heeded.  While we wouldn't call Alice an "idiot," the scenario in which that recipe is to be written is one for which the audience, Alice, has little to no knowledge of cooking.  Anderson's advice should be followed for writing assignment #3.

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