15 March 2010

Canada 150: LAC remarks

Congratulations to the LAC web staff for promptly getting online the text of the Librarian and Archivist of Canada's remarks on March 11 made in the context of 150!Canada anniversary initial meeting.

Daniel J. Caron's remarks on "Memory, Literacy and Democracy" were given to a meeting of 200 public servants and 100 members of the public. They are posted at http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/whats-new/013-445-e.html

Caron reflects on challenges of "uncontrolled, disordered, informal experiences and unlimited communications relativity of cyberspace permitted by the Web and networks." He is right on in his analysis, but stumbles in providing leadership in addressing that challenge. The best is that "the public memory challenge ... is an immediate matter for all of us to consider together as a collective social responsibility."

Hopefully LAC will more clearly be seen to be taking this collective approach in their own modernization initiative. It's now three months since a series of pathfinders were issued with little LAC effort evident in leading a broad consultation.

While the substance of the remarks is thoughtful, the form is awful.

At a time when maximum 15 second sound bites, and 140 character Twitter posts, are the norm these remarks are baffle-gab. On the Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease score where the higher the score the easier the read; where Time magazine typically scores 52, and the Harvard Law Review 30; this speech rates 19.3.

On the SMOG (Simple Measure of Gobbledygook) Index it rates 24.2 where the number is the years of education needed to completely understand it.

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