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The Daily Need

Tabula rasa

At some point in the last decade PowerPoint developed a toxic reputation. The military is obsessed (and concerned) about it, business people grumble about it, and its tendency towards simplification has been shown to be dangerous. But online they’ve become downright passé. We are now living in the age of the online whiteboard presentation.

The most obvious entry point to this growing oeuvre is still possibly the best: the UPS Whiteboard Ads. Familiar to anyone with a TV, a hip middle-aged guy with longer hair makes a pitch at you (the audience) about the services that UPS can offer, illustrating the points with clever alterations to drawings on a whiteboard.

Punctuated with appropriately named music, The Postal Service commercials, which in all fairness were designed for television, seem to have spawned an online trend of earnest, smart and informative presentations.

Back in June, Marketplace’s Paddy Hirsch did a whiteboard presentation for Need to Know on proprietary trading. It’s a form he’s nearly perfected in dozens of videos on the Marketplace website explaining everything from Tier 1 Capital to write-downs.

If you’re looking for something slightly more ideologically driven — but with exceptional drawings — check out the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) Animates.

But not to be outdone, that paragon of Web 2.0-ness, the Obama Administration, has now thrown its hat in the ring. In the inaugural edition (presumably there will be more), Council of Economic Advisors Chair Austin Goolsbee takes the Bush tax cut fight to the whiteboard. In a disarmingly pleasant narrative, Goolsbee explains the nuanced point that under President Obama’s proposal to extend the tax-cuts for the middle-class, all Americans would get receive a tax cut on their first $250,000 of income — even if they made significantly more.

Finally, correspondent Rick Karr takes out the dry erase marker in tonight’s segment: “The shadow campaign: Big money in this year’s midterm elections.”

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