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Knowledge Moves. Strathern (2004) points out that knowledge moves by virtue of being embedded within objects that it is used to create. Therefore, for example, price of buying a computer includes not only metal and plastic box that you look at, but also price of research and development that went into creating it. This is also extensible to creation of knowledge in scientific community. Embedded into any scientific paper is not only immediate knowledge that it purports to show, but also information contained in papers that were used to produce hypothesis on which it is based. We can return to work of Latour for a clearer example of how information changes as it shifts location. In Pandora’s Hope (1999) he describes a field trip by a group of scientists to Amazon, designed to investigate a botanical mystery at edge of rainforest. Several small trees that usually grow only in savannah around forest had been found a few metres inside wood, and there was some debate as to whether this was a sign that forest was advancing (the tree was a scout) or retreating (the tree was left over by a shrinking forest). Latour traces plot of a group of soil samples from their position at edge of Amazonian jungle to their eventual resting place in academic literature. From ground, a sample is moved to a pedocomparator (a briefcase-sized grid) whereby it can be compared to other samples. Then via a process of inscription same soil sample becomes a figure in a chart. Latour likens process to a movement from ‘thing’ to ‘sign’. Once soil sample has ‘become’ a sign, it can be transmitted and reproduced with ease (ibid 1999: 54). Information then, is transformed as it moves through both time and space. Latour and Woolgar’s ethnography demonstrates that as historical information (in form of facts) is used by people it becomes part of something else, a new ‘fact’, in present day. Tsoukas points out that individual is a rich source of data which almost immediately becomes decontextualised and readily moved about. As it moves, information takes on new meanings dependent on situation it is used in and person that is using it.
International Classification of Diseases Revision 10. This is used be hospitals to classify patients according to illness, disease or accident that they are admitted for. Commonly used tests include standard gamble, feeling thermometer and time trade-off techniques. The Health Technology Assessment Programme has published a review of all of these measures (see references).
American Accounting Association. A Statement of Basic Accounting Theory. 1966; Sarasota, Florida: American Accounting Association.
Bachelard G. Le Materialisme Rationnel. 1953; Paris, PUF.
Brazier J, Deverill M, Green C et al. A Review of Use of Health Status Measures in Economic Evaluation. Health Technology Assessment 1999; 3: 9.
Hyland ME. Quality-of-Life Measures as Providers of Information on Value-for-Money of Health Interventions – Comparisons and Recommendations for Practice. Pharmacoeconomics 1997; 11 (1): 19-31.
Latour B. Pandora’s Hope - Essays on Reality of Science Studies. 1999; London, Harvard University Press.
Latour B and Woolgar S. Laboratory Life - The Construction of Scientific Facts. 1979; New Jersey, Princeton University Press.
Power M. Making Things Auditable. Accounting, Organisations and Society 1996; 21 (2/3): 289-315.
Power M. The Audit Society – Rituals of Verification. 1997; Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Strathern M. Commons and Borderlands - Working Papers on Interdisciplinarity, Accountability and Flow of Knowledge. 2004; Oxon, Sean King Publishing.
Tzoukas H. The Tyranny of Light - The Temptations and Paradoxes of Information Society. Futures 1997; 9: 827-843.
Jack Boulton is the editor of Stimulus Respond, the E-Zine for Urban Anthropologists (www.stimulusrespond.com). You may reproduce this article with permission (obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org) and on the condition that the author is credited along with a link to Stimulus Respond.