Beyond the White Paper
It sounds like a trick question, but it’s not: Do white papers need to be either white or paper? Authors are preparing a small but growing number of technical documents today that are intended to be read on a tablet or smartphone screen. And some of these multicolored, multimedia presentations and PowerPoint-style slideshows are having as big an impact as that of any traditionally arranged document.
The growing popularity of these next-generation white papers can be gauged from the SlideShare website, which according to a spokesperson has 50 million unique visitors per month. Technology is the site’s second most popular slideshow category, just behind business and management.
These new white papers often make use of video, audio, and interactive elements. The most sophisticated versions, such as a presentation by market intelligence firm International Data Corp. on the world of big data, are complete microwebsites with video and graphics to convey the message.
A story for the March 2013 issue of IEEE Spectrum. Illustration by Jesse Lefkowitz