Musings of an archivist / librarian.
Possibly deranged; definitely political.
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Caron at CLA - Video

This seems to have been released with little fanfare (and ratings are of course disabled) but thanks to an eagle-eyed archival colleague the video of Daniel Caron’s CLA Keynote is now available! It’s heavily edited. Below is a (very heavily) sanitised version of a report I sent to arcan-l in the immediate aftermath of this speech:

…If you’ve been following Arcan-l or the hashtag #CLAott2012 at all, you’ll have gathered Caron’s keynote was rather an extraordinary spectacle. To me it seemed like a lengthy diatribe of disconnected talking points from the 90s and early 2000s, demanding that libraries and heritage institutions get up to speed with things we have in fact been doing for years if not decades. I took away an impression that M. Caron believes information and heritage professionals to be dangerously hidebound, incompetent, and resistant to change.

Selected gems: 

  • LAC is a shining example as it now boasts not only a Facebook page but also 600 whole followers on twitter (!!!) 
  • Library/heritage professionals risk being guilty of, or are guilty of, “digging in their heels and wrapping themselves in the Canadian flag to maintain the status quo” (the anger in the room at this was palpable; indeed a number of people confessed to me later that this was the moment where he crossed the Rubicon)
  • The “container” of information is now irrelevant; the information is everything. I actually have no idea what he was talking about here. Medium, format? If so this is simply nonsense from the point of view of digital records’ longevity and integrity. Reference InterPARES…or indeed any research into digitial preservation and dissemination, I think the consensus is pretty solid on this.

He said not one single word in support of his colleagues at LAC and expressed no solidarity or even acknowledgement of the difficult staffing situation there. I suppose any expression of solidarity would have appeared disingenuous. After he concluded the reaction in the room was one of universal incredulity. Some were insulted, some found it funny, some were left with serious doubts as to Caron’s fitness for office; everyone was confused.

My analysis is that the speech was never meant for us at all, but instead was delivered in order to further atrophy the discourse by implying (or saying outright) that information professionals are not fit for the modern environment; we must either embrace his vision (whatever that is) or risk becoming actively counterproductive. No matter that we know what he was saying was either a result of gross misinformation or outright contempt - we’re not the ones who matter in this.

It’s left to us, then, to reshape the discourse in a more positive direction. For ideas of how to do so, refer to my InfoManifesto.

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