White Papers are in favor among internet marketers these days, especially those selling to businesses, and they score high among preferred lead-generating devices. I think it’s the carefully crafted aura of impartiality that does it.
There is a definition of the White Paper that says it derives from British government documents so named a few decades ago to distinguish them from other British government documents called Blue Books. Sounds reasonable.
I wonder, though, if the White Paper may not go back further than that, even to events like Ferdinand and Isabella hiring Columbus. The final results were royal charters and voyages of discovery, but can’t you just imagine the studies that preceded them?
Court of Spain, 1491: The Project which Applicant propofses seems suicidal, if only for the fact that the Earth is Flat and he could sail off an Edge, taking Your Majesty’s ships and goods, to substantial loss to the Crown. Another danger arises from the very Crew, ruffians well-aware of the presence of Sea Monsters in the Western Longitudes and easily incited to Mutiny if conditions become difficult.
Ameliorating those factors, however, is the pofssibility of Great Wealth being gathered from yet-undiscovered Lands; and the stipulation that the man Columbus is willing to take the Risks and has not asked that anyone from the Court accompany him. On Balance, therefore, this Commission is inclined to the Belief that Funding of such Projects would be to the Crown’s advantage.
Then, for sheer magnitude of effect on the lives of people, there is Great Britain’s White Paper of 1939. In effectively reversing the policy of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 establishing a Jewish state in Palestine, it determined the fate of millions.
My own White Papers are of much less consequence, but they carry on the tradition. If you can muster the curiosity to wonder about
(a) the significance, for businesspeople, of three executives’ hopscotching efficiently between Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Springfield Illinois and Augusta Georgia in one trip in 1988, or
(b) how a new business proposal goes together,
those White Papers are available.