White Pages & White Papers


Anyone wandering around Knowledge Management websites or performs a search on Knowledge Management subjects in large search engines, has probably encountered the term 'white pages' or 'white papers' more than once.

The term may appear in several ways:

  1. The most common way is a message/link on the homepage/title styled "A new white paper by…"
  2. Another way is as a branch in itself on the Knowledge Management portal/website such as the website IT Toolbox.


Are 'white pages' and 'white papers' merely variations of the same term or two different terms? The answer you will receive depends on who you ask:


In Methodological terms

'White pages' and 'white papers' are two distinct terms:

  • White pages:

A database or internet guide which contains the names and contact details of experts on different subjects, usually organized alphabetically.

The database usually contains the details of expert and additional information which enables the user to decide whether to turn to them. Part of what makes white pages unique is their specialty in specific subjects, such as white pages for Knowledge Management experts (unlike the 'yellow pages') thus enabling different types of searches: search by name, by field and by context.

  • White papers

White papers is originally a term referring to governmental/regimental summaries of laws, regulations and instructions published to the public in order to inform it of the regime's view of a public issue. In a general modern context, and specifically in context of internet and specifically Knowledge Management, it refers to an article or document written by an expert in a specific field (e.g. portals) which presents its perception/opinion on this subject (for example: "the purpose of the portal in intra-organizational processes"). The article usually contains a rationale, examples and other means of persuasion in order to strengthen the writer's opinion and to affect the trends in the presented field.


In practice

The confusion between the terms is understandably great so that one can easily find a title with the term 'White pages' on a specific subject (the confusion is usually lesser to the other direction). White papers are very common on the internet and typing the term into Google will prove so. Less common are the white pages, since there few organizations nowadays whose workers do not know each other and need to keep in touch for work relationships.



WIFIM is an acronym for 'What's In It For Me?' which means the following:

Every activity should be reviewed: does it benefit the users? Is it worthwhile? An activity which is comprised of one side that provides and another side which enjoys this service does not pass the WIFIM side since one side doesn't have anything 'in it for' it. Therefore, the chances this activity will succeed are low. In a Knowledge Management activity,  the defined benefit is organizational; there is always a need to ensure that the WIFIM test is passed on both the individual level of each worker and the departmental level. Like it or not, even department managers must perform a WIFIM test. Anyone can see the benefit he/she receives from the activity. It is recommended to raise the question when characterizing a new Knowledge Management solution and every time a new population is joined to an existing activity.


Wiki is a term in the world of websites which refers to a site including (half) structured pages written by its readers. This is a different concept of writing information on the internet. The site is totally open for editing by all readers; every reader can add and alter information as he/she sees fit. The pages are linked within themselves and to the external web sphere in an array of smart links, defining interesting networks of information and knowledge. The concept behind the Wiki is utilizing reader's knowledge in order to create rich content without the effort of editing. An especially ambitious Wiki project is Wikipedia, the first attempt at creating an encyclopedia open for editing in different languages.

If you are curious regarding the quality of an entry in an open-for-editing encyclopedia, you can examine the 'Knowledge Management' entry in our Wiki; you can even edit it yourself.


As a response to a new term that went through andragogy, hereby is an additional reading source, recommended by Zmira Guttesman of Intel:

The Adult Learner: The Definitive Classic in Adult Education and Human Resource Development           by Malcolm S. Knowles (Author) et al (Paperback - 1998).

Wiktionary: A win-win situation for KM and BI

The world of Web2.0 fascinates most of us. The interest is real and is more than a short-termed passing trend. There is a great commotion around this new field: we report daily about more Wikis being set-up, about more new bloggers writing their first posts. For the sake of illustration, in the end of 2006 76 million blogs were charted on the internet.

What does all of this have to do with BI? It is obvious to us why the Knowledge Management personnel are excited: the organizations wish to introduce the Web2.0 tools into the organizations. These tools are popular among users since they are user friendly and it is simple to share knowledge using them. Yet why are BI personnel excited?

A famous phenomenon in the world is the "key" phenomenon, also known as "I got a hammer". The problem is simple: when people have a key in their hands, they believe every object to be a keyhole (or a nail to hammer, to refer to the hammer metaphor). In the context of Web2.0, organizations and Wiki- we encounter this phenomenon in an elegant yet strikingly similar matter. Organizations wish to introduce Web2.0 to the organization, see Wikipedia and immediately attempt to implement it in the organization: let's set up our own Wikipedia, say the organizations, which will contain our organizational dictionary. What could possibly go wrong? Any worker debating over the meaning of a certain term can review the organizational terms. We will create a uniform language and provide new workers an easy introduction, etc. They hurry to the implementation stage, usually unjustifiably.


The term refers to mini-applications in the organizational portal usually presented in a partial window of the portal. The name is not uniform, and changes according to the brand:

  • MS SharePoint refer to it as WEBPART
  • PLUMTREE refer to it as GADGET
  • VIADOR and LOTUS refer to it as PORTLET
  • HUMMINGBIRD use the unique name eCLIP.

The name is irrelevant. What is important is what the name means. And what it means here is the main "meat" of the portal, the basic building block from which screens (on a technological level) and knowledge solutions (on a business level) are composed. Collecting a number of windowlets related to the same subject allows the integration of data, information and knowledge. This type of integration provides added value for the worker who wishes to complete his/her assigned task without in depth orientation of the expert systems and/or document archives.

Windowlets: a small name with great meaning.

Winner Application

The term 'Winner Application' refers to knowledge, whether an application or knowledgebase, presented as part of a portal or any similar framework application. Their purpose is to attract users to enter. A year or two ago, we thought a picture or notification was enough to get people to enter the website. As time went by, we understood that selective entering is insufficient. We need to provide real knowledge and information, the "WOW" kind. The kind of knowledge that will make users want to use everything surrounding it, search and request for more.

How does one choose a winner application? In order to do this, you must locate knowledge/information that is critical for the activity of the application/portal's target audience as well as locate knowledge/information that is not presented (at least not in an integrative manner) anywhere else in the organization. Deciding on a winner application must be made only after consulting the users and must include their active participation in the characterization process. Information should be believable and maintained since it serves as an anchor for other applications and knowledge items.

Winner Applications

When analyzing a portal, we usually divide its components to three main types of portal components: goal-supporting components, inventory and winner applications.

Goal-supporting components are the content, data and lists that serve as the portal's professional core. This content is the reason we decided to set up a portal in the first place; it supports the business goals we set for ourselves (hence its title) and is the content we expect to cause users to enter the portal: the supplier list in the purchase portal, financial data in the banking portal, the reaction portal in the R&D portal, etc.

Another type of content we include in the portal is the 'inventory' content, which is the content and components we add to the portal since they already exist. The resources were already allocated and so we allow exposure to content with professional and organizational added value, revealing organization knowledge and information to enable transparency and sharing while incidentally gaining the workers' involvement and broadening their professional horizons in other areas.

Another type of content and components is referred to as ‘winner applications’, i.e. components that are entered most and serve as the portal's most attractive features. Winner Applications can be either goal-supportive or inventory components. Applications that attract users to enter the portal aren't necessarily those that store the professional knowledge or those that serve as the focal point for data that will generate the professional added value. Is this a bad thing? Not at all! When a user enters the portal, we can expose them to various content, accustom them to using the portal and "push" knowledge towards them via the homepage or other components.

What type of winner applications are common among organizations?

  • Access to pay slips: many HR portals in organizations scan the pay slip monthly and grant access by authorization.
  • Viewing the lunchroom: You can publish the 'menu of the day' and set up a small webcam that broadcasts the length of the lunch-line at the moment.
  • Sales and welfare: tickets, discounts, and attractions
  • Reporting presence: requires workers to quite frequently enter the portal to report work hours
  • Transportation reservation: a safe wat to "force" workers to use the portal.
  • Intra-organizational tenders: available jobs/positions
  • Organizational give & take board: some portals allow selling/transferring personal possessions; some only allow "selling" organizational equipment, transferring it through the different parts of the organization
  • Phone usage details compared to the monthly quota: allows the worker to follow phone usage on a daily basis
  • WEB 2.0 components: an organizational social network/blog of a senior manager or simply a worker, option to response or prioritize news in the portal

When considering a professional/organizational portal's upgrade/analysis, it is best to dedicate some thought to winner applications (such as those mentioned above). This type of components can increase the portal's level of usage, even turn it into a popular, familiar and user-friendly tool. Furthermore, entering the portal exposes users to data relevant to them and takes them to further destinations.