If there is ever a turn of phrase that should give taxpayers pause, it is this: “The state-of-the-art facility will incorporate interactive technologies…” In this instance, it’s part of a CBC story about the new $90 million “Canada History Centre” for Ottawa.
Compare this to Founders Hall’s description of itself:
Learning history is fun at Founders’ Hall, Canada’s newest heritage attraction. With state-of-the-art audio headsets, visitors are led through “The Time Travel Tunnel” and are transported back in time with the use of multi-million dollar technology, holo-visuals, multi-media interpretation, and realistic and interactive displays.
Notice the similarities? I think “state of the art” is a code word for “we’re pouring a lot of money at this problem, and hope it works out.” Lord knows we’ve got a state of the art white elephant of a tourist attraction at the base of Prince St. that our friends in Ottawa should use as a cautionary example (see Why Founders’ Hall Fails from 2001 for details).
Reminds me of the “world-class” syndrome that gripped Toronto in the mid-eighties. People said the city itself was world class, that aspects of its infrastructure were world class, that its museums and restaurants were world class. I don’t know if this phenomenon is still going on. I was always dubious whether “world class” really means anything or can be justified in application to any of these things (which are never invited to compete in the Olympics). Unfortunately, it might be fair to say that Toronto’s current public health situation truly is world class, what with the WHO taking an interest.