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White Paper World 43: June 27, 2024


  • Quick tip: Use AI to make a Mini-Me
  • This just in: AI took their jobs. Now they get paid to make it sound human
  • What I’m reading: The Three-Body Problem
  • June Book Giveaway: Tell me your favorite SF book
  • Need help with your next white paper?

5 minute read. 7 minute listen:

 


Dr Evil and Mini-Me

Quick tip: Use AI to make a Mini-Me

1 minute read

Remember the Austin Powers spy spoof movies?

The ones where supervillain Dr. Evil had a miniature clone of himself called Mini-Me?

Mini-Me dressed the same, talked the same, and shared the same silly tics as Dr. Evil. But he was a whole lot shorter.

This is how to think about the executive summary of your white paper.

It should be a pint-sized version of your full-length paper. In effect, a Mini-Me.

Why have an executive summary?

This one page gives busy B2B executives a quick overview and all the key takeaways of your paper.

It’s short enough to scan in less than a minute.

Then an executive can make a quick, informed decision:

  • Forget it, this is not for us
  • Could be useful, I’ll send it to my assistant or a colleague to check out
  • Interesting, I’ll spend some more time on this

If your summary helps a busy prospect make the right call, it’s a success.

comprising a full-length white paper down to 1 page summary aka Mini-Me

The fast way to create a Mini-Me: AI

Say you’ve written your paper, but haven’t done your executive summary yet.

Just paste the whole paper into AI and ask for a summary of less than 200 words.

Give it a little context, like your audience and your purpose.

Tell it to match the same style as the rest of the paper.

And then ask the AI to sum up each section of the main body in a sentence or two, and not to miss any key takeaways.

In less than a minute, you’ll have a draft summary.

You may need to touch it up, but AI can do a pretty good job of making a Mini-Me.

Or can it? Give AI a test drive

  1. Find a white paper published with an executive summary you wrote.
  2. Delete the exec summary and feed the rest of your paper into AI.
  3. Ask it to write an executive summary of the same length.
  4. Compare what it came up with to what you originally wrote.

How did it do? Did it surprise you?

 


Update: Keeping your client projects confidential

Alert reader Helen McCrone asked me about keeping client projects confidential when you use AI.

Whoops! What an oversight!

I believe there are three likely cases, symbolized by the traffic light.

red green or yellow lights on a stoplight

 

Red: The client says no AI can be used by employees or contractors, due to privacy or other concerns. So you follow the policy and write your executive summary by yourself.

Yellow: The client says we’re concerned about AI learning about our propetary tech, so you can only use AI if you turn off its memory. You can do this, but then you have to trust Big Tech not to snoop through your prompts. Can you trust them?
Green: The client says this project is not proprietary tech, so you’re welcome to use AI as you wish. Go to it.

 

In any case, a wise precaution is to remove or change the company name before you tell AI about its plans.

 


disgruntled writer working to make mounds of AI output sound more human

Graphic from DALL-E

This just in: AI took their jobs. Now they get paid to make it sound human

1 minute read.

This intriguing story was just published by the BBC.

It tells the saga of a writer who once oversaw a 60-person team of content writers.

Their unnamed employer is “a tech company that packages and resells data on everything from real estate to used cars.”

Sounds like a data broker, the kind of company we’ve learned to despise.

(For more background on how these companies are ruining the world, watch a documentary like The Great Hack on Netflix.)

To save money, the company brought in a chatbot to brainstorm ideas and outline articles.

What a brilliant concept—not!

Everything unwound as we could all predict:

  1. Soon, the company made the writers start filling in the AI’s outlines.
  2. Next, the AI started writing and the writers had to edit its output.
  3. Finally, the company laid off all the writers.

Our hero was the only survivor, left to slog through a mound of AI output to “humanize” it.

The article says, “A new type of gig is emerging: fixing the robots’ shoddy writing.” Last summer I predicted this would be a new job. But I don’t feel vindicated, just saddened.

After months fixing the AI’s output to make it sound human, our hero got canned himself. Sheesh!

That article makes a thought-provoking read.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry. Check it out.

logo of the BBC

 


What I’m Reading: The Three-Body Problem

I first heard about this novel when I noticed the Netflix show based on it.

But I wanted to read the book before I watched the show. 

book cover The Three-Body Problem

What a treat! I binge-read it on a rainy weekend, and quickly ordered the next two titles in the trilogy.

The Three-Body Problem is routinely described as “mind-bending.” Barak Obama called it “wildly imaginative.”

I concur. 

The story sweeps through vast distances in time and space: from ancient Egypt, through Mao‘s Cultural Revolution, to a video game with an alien civilization, to a future where humanity’s survival is in doubt.

And the author pulls off a rare feat: He combines hard science with sympathetic characters and plenty of action.

And he wraps it all up in an intricate plot that just keeps raising the stakes higher and higher until you feel your brain start to bubble and you realize that the horizons of your thinking have been way too small.

Try that, AI!

Author Cixin Liu is an engineer and prolific SF writer from China who has won notable awards and a huge following. In 2015, The Three-Body Problem won the Hugo, the Western prize for the best novel of the year.

Here’s a great profile of the author published five years ago in the New Yorker.

The Netflix show was written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss from Game of Thrones. It will run three seasons, presumably one season for each book.

I’m really looking forward to it. But I plan to read those next two books before I watch any of it.

If you like SF in the tradition of Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, I guarantee you will like this book.

 


Book Giveaway logo

June Book Giveaway: What’s your favorite SF book?

Summer’s a great time to do some reading, right?

This time around, tell me your favorite science fiction book and why you like it.

I’m not looking for an essay. A couple sentences will do. Tell me why I should read it this summer.

If I draw your answer, I’ll give you any title from my list of recommended books on white papers and everything else.

Free shipping, free everything. And feature you in a mini-profile.

So drop me an email at gordon@thatwhitepaperguy by 6 PM Eastern Wednesday July 3. 

I’ve already given away 14 books. The next one could be yours!

 


a blueprint becoming a frame becoming a finished kitchen to signify a white paper blueprint

Need help with your next white paper?

  • Not sure where to start?
  • Wondering how to pull together everything you need?
  • Worried about managing such a big project?

Get a blueprint!

After working on 322 white papers, I can help you sketch out your next white paper in just a few minutes.

Whether you’re a marketing manager or a B2B writer, getting your White Paper Blueprint is as easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Set up a one-hour Zoom with everyone who needs to review your paper.
  2. On that Zoom, I guide your team through a set of key questions.
  3. I send you a detailed blueprint for your white paper.

But wait, there’s more!

closeup on scaffolding on a construction site

I won’t just hand you a blueprint and disappear. I’ll stay in touch as your project takes shape.

You can ask me any questions that pop up as you go along.

That’s like me helping you put up the temporary scaffolding you need to build your paper.

And for a modest fee, I can read your drafts and send you my comments.
That’s like inviting me on-site to do an inspection.

In all these ways—initial planning, help as you go, and final review—I can help make sure your project runs smoothly, gets published successfully, and generates the results you need.

No AI can do all that.

So if you need some help getting started on your next white paper, drop me a line at gordon @ thatwhitepaperguy.com

And here’s a special gift to my subscribers: If you mention this newsletter, I’ll reduce your fees by 25%.
That will bring down your fee from $975 to $725—so you save $250.

 


That’s all for now

To my fellow Canadians, Happy Canada Day!

And to all my American friends, Happy Fourth!

Please pass this newsletter along to anyone you think would appreciate it.

Gordon Graham, That White Paper Guy

See all the previous issues here:
www.thatwhitepaperguy.com/newsletters/

Listen to the audio versions here:
https://thatwhitepaperguy.com/podcasts/

To get every future issue, visit: www.thatwhitepaperguy.com/subscribe/

And good luck with all your writing projects!

Gordon Graham
That White Paper Guy

 

 

About Gordon Graham

Worked on 320+ white papers for clients from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients from tiny startups to 3M, Google, and Verizon. Wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned 60+ 5-star ratings on Amazon. Won 16 awards from the Society for Technical Communication. Named AWAI 2019 Copywriter of the Year.

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