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O, Canada

Yesterday, my cubicle mate, Peter, introduced me to Prevent-It, a Web information campaign for young workers produced by Ontario's Workplace Safety & Insurance Board.

The great Canadian novelist Robertson Davies once called his homeland "America's Attic," referring to Canada's geographic position and cultural relevance relative to its neighbor to the south. However, his description is also apt if one thinks of an attic as a kind of Wunderkammer. Though Americans and Canadians share many qualities that make us appear indistinguishable, upon closer inspection their sensibility and aesthetic seem just a little skewed from an American perspective. Prevent-It is one small instance of this cultural difference.

As its name, description, and source suggest, Prevent-It offers advice for young workers on workplace safety and handling unsafe conditions. There's nothing particularly innovative in the way the WSIB uses technology on this site. It's split into Flash and text-only versions that seem to serve the standard public-service fare—except that the flash animations feature a severed hand, its former owner, and the many ways in which his life is comically altered by having a bloody stump.

I can't imagine a U.S. government agency producing an information campaign with as much self-mocking cheesiness and cartoonish gore, and I think it's great. I also think Prevent-It is worth a short study by some government docs or E-government specialist.

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