An “Idiot’s Guide” for Explaining Things

Anand Jagadeesh
4 min readMay 16, 2020
On how to understand and explain the "things" in a simple way!
Photo by Pexen Design from Pexels

This might sound odd but we are taught concepts in school but not how to learn them. It is sad that people who have a good IQ still find it difficult to learn concepts. I am not an educationist. Don’t mistake me to be one. I am just another graduate. Nothing more than that. I just wanted to share my view on how to learn things. :-)

The problem is not the problem itself. The problem is how you view the problem. The concepts are simple to learn. The problem is how we approach it. Let me just tell you a trick, that I believe, would help some. The method, that I proudly call “the method of cuento(story)”. ;-)

I would like to explain it with an example. Let’s take the example of the principle of routing in computer networks because I am a software engineer. I won’t complicate it. To send data from a computer in one local area network to another computer in another network, the packet needs to be routed from one network to another. A router is a device that does this by receiving the packet from one network, forwarding it to the intended network. The next paragraph is the theory. Non-Computer-Guys, please skip it.

The Actual Routing Theory: The networks are interconnected using a device called the router. The router has ports connected to different networks and each port takes an IP address corresponding to the network it is connected to. When a packet is to be sent to another computer, the ARP request is sent, the MAC address of the destination machine is got in the response if the machine is in the same network and data is sent. If the machine is in a different network, none of the machines in the network responds to the ARP requests. Instead, the routers in that network check their routing tables and if they can forward, they will respond with their MAC Address for the ARP request. Then they receive the packet and then forward it to the relevant port…​ (the explanation continues…​)

Oh, God! This is one hell of a simple theory part in computer networks. I tried explaining this in an interview. I started off well, but it didn’t end up well. Then I found out a story, the idiot’s version of this to tackle the boring theory. The next paragraph is the “method of cuento” version of routing. I used this explanation in many places and it worked! Caution: This is not in the Examination point-of-view. There you have to write the first version. Otherwise, you will lose marks!!!

The Idiot’s Version a.k.a the “Method Of Cuento” version: Let me tell you a story! We found a book last week in our classroom and the name “Ava(just another random name)” was written on it. It seems someone accidentally left it there. Suppose we don’t know if we have an “Ava” in our class. We will call out that name to find out if someone responds. If someone responds, then, that is her, ask her if she lost any books recently and return if it is her book. If she didn’t lose a book or if no “Ava” is there in this class, what will we do? We will have some connections, friends in other classes, na, they can be nicknamed the routers. We will ask them if they know an “Ava” in their class. If there is one, we will ask them to cf that girl in their class lost a book recently and do this till we find the intended recipient. Then we will give it to that friend in that specific class to give it to her as he will say, “Give it to me bro, I will give it to her!”. And we will wait till she sends her acknowledgements and gratitude back through the friend. “A new connection is established” [and grin innocently!]…​ (You can make more interesting stories)

This is one way of explaining things. And it is a damn simple one too. This is a really helpful and interesting way to present answers to the technical questions in a non-technical way. This will help you show two main things to the person who asked you the question.

  1. That you understood what routing is.
  2. That you are able to explain it to any person. Even a non-technical person.

But let me remind you one more thing! Make sure you don’t use it during a very very serious interview. If you see that the interviewer doesn’t like this kind of answer, don’t lose your chance to get a job! Revert to the theoretical way of answering!

I believe this is one good way to understand and talk about certain concepts. It is just another stupid post to some. But, if you like it, share this idea with your friends too!

;-) Good Day Folks!

Originally published at https://anand-jagadeesh.blogspot.com on May 16, 2020.

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Anand Jagadeesh

⌨ Writes about: ⎇DevOps, 🧠ML/AI, 🗣️XAI & 💆Interpretable AI, 🕸️Edge Computing, 🌱Sustainable AI | 💼Global Grad. @ VCC | 🎓MSc AI @ UoStA '22 | anandj.xyz