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Last week, we posted a link to one of the two performances of I Can Read Clearly Now (a.k.a., the Plain Language Ditty), the song we adapted from Johnny Nash’s original classic I Can See Clearly Now.

HealthNet video on YouTube: I Can Read Clearly Now

This bright and positive interpretation will warm any wintry mood!

Here’s the second way some literacy advocates out there took our words and Nash’s tune … and let their imagination do the rest! This next YouTube rendition was the brainchild of Coco Lukas and his fellow health literacy advocates at HealthNet, Inc., a community health resource center in Indianapolis, Indiana, whose mission is one I can sure get behind:

“To improve lives with compassionate health care and support services, regardless of ability to pay.”

Inspired by the song’s message at the PLAIN conference in Vancouver and the International Plain Language Day events on October 13, Lukas and colleagues went home and put together the colourful, positive video you see below – complete with young, enthusiastic voices … and animals! Have a look and a listen; it’ll no doubt add some warmth to your winter day.


Read, see and hear lots more from the conference on the official PLAIN 2013 conference site. Check it out – and also the Plain Language Association International site – to get the latest in research and insights about clear communication for all. 

We’re thrilled with – and honoured by – the number of views the Plain Language Ditty received from plain-language enthusiasts when we posted it back in October just before the Plain Language Association International’s conference in Vancouver.

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Dorrie Ratzlaff and Rush Clement perform I Can Read Clearly Now.

It had started as just a light diversion from my normal routine of editing health, legal and financial language: a way to contribute to the conference that might engage the participants senses differently while literally singing the praises of clear messages for all. Conference organizer Cheryl Stephens had asked if I could do an adaptation. I thought of this song, and you’ve seen the result!

Well, it sure took off from there, and now others have started offering their own interpretations. Here’s the first of these, part of the festivities in Vancouver to honour International Plain Language Day on October 13, 2013. So turn up those speakers and enjoy!

Thanks and ‘props’ to performers Dorrie Ratzlaff and Rush Clement, and also to Kate Whiteside for managing the production and publishing for the video. By the way, you can see a lot more from the conference on the official PLAIN 2013 conference site.


As our title suggests, there’s yet another interpretation out there, too! Watch for it in the next few days … and keep humming this enduring tune (especially as winter drapes its blanket over most of us North of the Equator).

More on the original song
We must again acknowledge that this was an adaptation to start with: from the original recording by Johnny Nash, first released back in 1972 [when your writer was just a wee babe yet]).

Our first post did not mention that along with Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley, Canadian jazz songstress Holly Cole also covered this song with her Trio back in 1993. A YouTube search also brings up a Bobby McFerrin performance.)

20130509_191902As we count down the last week before the 20th Anniversary conference of the Plain Language Association International (PLAIN), and in honour of International Plain Language Day October 13, here is a song I’ve adapted for the occasion.

It celebrates the benefits of plain language in helping us more clearly see, hear, read and understand the information around us.

Feel free to hum or sing along as you go …I bet you remember the tune!

————————————————————————————-

I Can Read Clearly Now  (sung to the tune of Johnny Nash’s I Can See Clearly Now)

Original Copyright: Epic Records and Johnny Nash, (c) 1972 **

Adaptation © Michelle Black, October 2013

————————————————————————————-

[Verse One]

I can read clearly now

The fog is gone

I can see all it means

and what to do.

paperdrown

Gone are the loaded words

That had me lost.

It’s gonna be a much, much easier day.

[Verse two]

I think I can make it now,

The noise is gone.

Passive voice and noun stacks have disappeared.

Here is that message I’ve been looking for.

Wow, this is a much, much easier way.

[Bridge]

Read it out loud, it sounds like they’re talking.

You understand – and know where you’re walking ….

[Verse three to end]

I can hear clearly now.

It all makes sense.

I can make sound decisions and act on them.20130530_173445

I’ve got a clearer path in front of me.

Plain language has helped, helped me make my way.

[Last line:] Plain language can help, help you make your way.

– Ends

** See more on the Wikipedia page for background on the original song and artist.

 

https://i1.wp.com/www.plain2013.org/uploads/4/5/8/9/4589105/header_images/1352307258.jpgThis October, come and hear the straight talk from the experts!

Plain Language Association International, the international association of plain-language, document design, literacy and other advocates, will be hosting its 20th Anniversary Conference in Vancouver.

PLAIN logo

The event stands to be a must-attend: You’ll hear from  speakers from all over the world including presenters from Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand,  Belgium, Sweden, Norway, and Britain. And of course, colleagues from Canada and the U.S. (including your humble blogger …).

The conference coincides with PLAIN’s 20th anniversary and International Plain Language Day on October 13.

We have a lot to celebrate! Won’t you join us?

> Learn more on the 2013 PLAIN Conference site, or

> check out the PLAIN website to learn about our work and members.

Joy_Magic_Reading

Turns out that – while I wasn’t looking – Messages entered its fifth year! At an average thousand-plus hits a year, I’m feeling pretty good about Li’l Bloggy.

So I’m celebrating four years of blathering on with another visual that quite plainly speaks for itself, thank you.

(In case you’re not clicking through the image … this comes from a post on the facebook page of Dartmouth Learning Network., shared in a terrific local group I’m part of called Read, Damn You!)

persondocumentBeen off the blog for awhile, but appreciate the visits we’ve gotten lately (… and not all of them were SPAM).

Speaking of visits, I was on CBC Radio Sudbury last Friday via their phone interview with me about plain-language wireless contracts. Currently, the Ontario government is getting ready to put forth a bill demanding changes to bills and contracts for cellphones.

Got a few minutes and an interest in plain-language contracts?

> Have a listen!

International Plain Language Day official siteAs part of SimplyRead’s contribution toward International Plain Language Day 2012, we created a short PowerPoint presentation: International Plain Language Day – Why it’s worth celebrating. It’s part of the ‘virtual celebration’ that continues beyond the 0fficial day this past October 13.

In it you’ll see examples that typify writing we see in business and everyday life, then After versions that demonstrate the value plain language adds. You’ll also get a few tips to help you design your information more clearly for readers.

Take a look, share it … use it however works to help people learn the value of plain language. Just make sure you use it as-is and say from whom and where you got it. (Yes, even we plain language people have disclaimers!)

And while you’re there, check out how much other impressive work is afoot to support clear communication around the world. Most of what you’ll find there was created recently – so you know it represents the the ‘latest and greatest’ on what plain language is, why it works, and who’s embracing it to improve their communications.

Our last few posts have looked at some of the ‘SPAM’ emails I’ve seen from people pretending to be a company or person I know, which intend to elicit my response so that the sender can then gather information from or otherwise try to take advantage of my naïve interest.

One of the tip-offs that these messages were fakes was that often they were riddled with spelling or grammar errors.

But even in large, legitimate organizations, mistakes happen. With so many people and interests involved, a few gaffes are bound to get missed.

Take the following example that recently crossed my desk:

Promotional AIR End Date: This date reflects the end of the corresponding promotional AIR. If you elect to change a billing cycle, this date could change. This date does not reflect any time period in which eligible transactions must be completed by, if any, to be subject to this promotional AIR.

Do you catch the mistake?

If, like me,  you’re just that type of smarty-pants who likes to notice other people’s grammar errors, this is your chance to shine! Tell us where you see a mistake in the above paragraph, and we’ll enter you into a prize draw. Just make sure you send us your answer by Friday, June 15. Heck, we’ll enter you even if you just surf around and leave a comment anywhere in the blog between now and that date (obvious spammers excluded).

The winner will get a copy of Lifting the Fog of Legalese: Essays on Plain Language (2005), by widely-published clear writing advocate Professor Joseph Kimble.

Interested in the issues I’ve written about over the past couple posts? If you are, you might want to check out this post by of V3 Kansas City Integrated Marketing and Social Media Agency: How To Delete Your Google History Before Google’s New Privacy Policy Kicks In.

After posting about Google’s Privacy Policy, I read lots of beefs from others who said that shortening and combining all those policies into one was now giving Google some serious muscle in terms of how it can use our info.

And, as Joe Turow, Adele McAlear and others have told us, we have to be careful about what happens to all those footprints we’re leaving behind.

RRSP shmRRSP: the real deadline relates to your deets in Google’s databases

But, according to Schamberger, there is a fix for your footprint on Google – but if you’re interested, you’d better get on it today: she gives instructions for putting your Google account ‘on pause’ so that Google can not start having enhanced access to use of your deets, a new practice which starts tomorrow, March 1.

If you're reading this, you probably have one of these.

CBC Radio One aired an interview this morning about the problems that arise when people pass away without having addressed how to manage their “digital footprint” or “digital legacy” after they’re gone. Today’s show was prompted by the latest effort in Nebraska to propose legislation to allow next of kin to control digital accounts after a user has passed away

I’ve faced this dilemma over the past year, when facebook asked me if I wanted to be friends with my recently-passed mother-in-law.

You see, she fully had no more intention of leaving anytime near when she set up her account, than we had of seeing her go. If she did leave instructions to take down her profile (which I suspect not), they have not yet been satisfied.

Even while I’ve hit the little x when my poor mom-in-law’s profile box appeared – a bizarrely final thing to do anyway – her name and photo still show up each time I search on fb for a name starting with the same first few letters as hers (I simply cannot bring myself to delete another good friend’s contact info from any of my lists, even though she’s been gone for four years now).

One of the people interviewed today on CBC says that facebook is just starting to tackle this issue, having dealt with requests to take down pages from people not even related to someone…or of people still very much alive. It’s sad.

And, it’s become rather insidious, as noted by this site, appropriately titled Death and Digital Legacy. A more well-known example mentioned on that site is of Janna Moore Morin, who died violently and unexpectedly, but whose facebook profile has taken on its own momentum in the two years since her death.

Some think that the directing of all these data toward us – whether we’ve asked for them or not – is a part of a larger, more sinister movement to hyper-market to us by using info about us gotten from our digital footpath, and feeding us only the information related to those preferences – and of course, to the products that can help us further feed the image of ourselves we’ve put out there. The Daily You by Joe Turow explores this more closely, and Professor Turow blogs about these issues regularly on Media Today and Tomorrow.

Would you want to share every part of your digital legacy?
Getting back to the more general issue of the digital footprint, another point made this morning was about including it as a line item in our long-term plan. Aside your will, insurance papers and other instructions in your emergency plan, we’re being advised to ensure we have a list of all of our online accounts and their entry passwords, which we give to our partner or someone else we trust…just in case.

But what if there are accounts we only use for the stuff we don’t ever want people to know? (Course, you might argue quite rightly, as many have done, that you should never exchange anything online that you wouldn’t want shared.) And after you’re gone, well, it’s really all quite moot anyway, right?

Have you considered your digital legacy?

But what if, by sharing that info with your partner, you’re leaving yourself open to that trusted person using that information, er, before they need to? Then, if you do have some things to hide, you could be discovered while you’re still here to have to deal with the fallout?

These couple examples are likely just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Once you engage with something that is capable of transmitting every one of your deets across the planet and back, these things are now part of your baggage, whether you like it or not.

Still not sure you should be worried? Click the video on the right side of the Death and Digital Legacy site. Follow Digital Nick and his exploits, which only magnify in interest…only problem is, the real Nick has died.

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