On this page, I’m collecting all of the material you’ll need ready-to-hand for the last month of this semester. Here, you’ll find readings, links to talks and videos, final assignment definitions (“whitepapers”), as well as sample whitepapers for your further consideration. I will be placing this material on Canvas as well.
Last updated 19 April 2020 1:20PM
Schedule and Guidelines
End of semester: Course grades; Whitepapers (opens as a PDF)
Talks & Videos
Optional and Suggested Readings
I’m continuing to add to these examples.
This whitepaper, “The Future of Virtual Worlds,” from UK’s Daden Unlimited, is a very wonky, policy-oriented whitepaper. It was written with a broad, mostly governmental or corporate audience in mind, with at least two goals in mind:
- Educate the reader about a topic (a very academic goal);
- Convince the reader that our services will be very useful to their bureau/company/organization in the near future (a very commercial goal).
The commercial goal of this whitepaper is just out of view for most of the paper, finally becoming clearest on page 20. In a section entitled “Further Information,” we read “If you would like to talk through some of the issues raised in this whitepaper…”.
That’s not how academic papers traditionally end, obviously. But since this whitepaper wants to convince you that Daden UK can help your government build a better virtual presence, the author makes it clear at the end that he’d like to chat, if you have a moment.
There is nothing wrong with that, to my mind. It doesn’t make the information contained in the paper less valuable. It certainly means we should be mindful of the fact that this whitepaper is at least in part a sales pitch while we read the document (what else is he selling? does he have a vested interest in some of the games he just happens to mention?) But the truth is that we should be skeptical of everything we read, and it is always important to understand how an author is related to his or her work.
Because academics are always “selling things,” too — we get hired based on our expertise; we win grants and are invited to speak because of the projects we are associated with and the influential leaders who happen to like us.
The single most important thing to notice about this whitepaper is that it seems to be all over the map: It makes fairly advanced claims about the future of 3D interfaces in virtual worlds; about standards and virtual world “interoperability”, and about the future of collaboration in virtual worlds. But it also devotes a full page just to defining “virtual world.”
Obviously, the whitepaper is addressing lots of different audiences with diverse needs: If you don’t know what a virtual world is, for example, then you probably don’t have any need to learn more about virtual worlds and “interoperability standards”.
That’s one good lesson to take from this document: Every whitepaper has an audience, and has to tailor its message to that audience. Your should think about your argument and the audience that you want to reach: Executives at Riot Games? 6-figure streamers on Twitch? Companies who market to new developers on Steam? Developers at companies that are owned by both American and Chinese investors? This decision will obviously have an affect on the way you marshal your argument.