Knowledge MovesWritten by Jack Boulton
‘Knowledge comes from, and is drawn into, different organisational structures. At same time, notion that knowledge travels… Invites one to reconstruct communities in its wake, tracing connections after fact.’ (Strathern 2004: 15).
We are surrounded by knowledge in different forms. Although your own personal understanding of technology may not match that of, say, a computer programmer, computer you are using to read this piece – or, indeed, printer you used to print it – are products of applied knowledge, products which become symbols in a particular context. Your computer may mean one thing – or nothing – to you, but to someone else in a different place it means something else. The computer programmer is perhaps a good example of how one form of knowledge can be turned on its head and transformed into something else. The programmer uses computer to metamorphose his knowledge of programming into a piece of software which in turn is used by another to transform their knowledge… And so on. This transformation – flow – of knowledge is common in contemporary society. We are part of a culture which is obsessed with information. I intend here to describe how information is produced, particularly scientific facts, using examples from Power (1997) and Latour and Woolgar (1979). I will also use evidence from Strathern (2004), Tsoukas (1997) and Latour (1999) to illustrate how knowledge changes meaning as it travels.
Constructing Fact. In Laboratory Life (1979), Latour and Woolgar apply sociological theory to their ethnography of a scientific laboratory. They successfully trace construction of a scientific fact to creation of order out of disorder. To them, fundamental feature of a ‘fact’ is that it does not appear to be constructed by any outside forces: it is a taken-for-granted statement unflawed by modality. However they point out that in laboratory situation, environment can be broken down into ‘specific histories’ which have enabled items such as scientific equipment to become available at a certain point in time. Bachelard (1953) refers to laboratory equipment as ‘reified theory’, that is, that each piece of equipment is a construct of a theory that has been proven factual at a previous point in time.
Auditing People. The concept of ‘audit society’ was pinpointed by Michael Power (1996, 1997) and concerns a very particular pattern of knowledge designed to ‘develop essentially similar measures or conclusions from an examination of same evidence, data or records’ (American Accounting Association 1966: 10). Essentially audit is a process by which information is gathered in order to verify that something is happening as it should do, and/or to suggest methods by which this activity can be adjusted in order to function more effectively. In area of health and medicine, one use of audit data is ‘to stimulate more effective use of increasingly limited resources by creating an element of competition between those who supply medical services… And those who must purchase those services.’ (Power 1997: 104). Tsoukas (1997) also states that ‘… In a modern hospital sick person is turned into an information-rich patient; information about his or her illness can be systematically gathered – information speaks for, describes, represents patient. And when NHS computerises its files, a patient can be emailed, so to speak, from one part of country to other.’ (1997: 833).
Here already we can see that information is on move. From its origination with patient, an illness is reduced to a number (for example, an ICD-10  code) and then moved firstly to another part of hospital and then to somewhere completely different. The illness itself will have significant meaning to patient, whilst ICD-10 code will have a different meaning depending on who is using data. Another example is QALY (Quality-Adjusted Life Year) which is calculated using patient-reported data obtained by using various measures and tests in interview situations  (Hyland 1997). The QALY is a figure between 0 and 1, and is an indication of how good or bad a medical treatment is based solely on how long it keeps a patient alive for and at how high a quality of life. Whereas experience of illness is likely to have a significant meaning in life of patient, it is equally likely that QALY will have very little meaning to them. It will, however, be of significant interest to a health economist or to individuals working within field of medicine. Of course I am not striving to point out that information is interesting to different people. What is important here that it is essentially same information that is undergoing a process of change as it moves around. It is also worth pointing out that after it has undergone its first change it is unlikely to be of interest to person responsible for reporting it.
Resolving Conflicts By Turning Negatives Into PositivesWritten by Etienne A. Gibbs, MSW, Management Consultant and Trainer
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There are five techniques that I shall share with you. They have been proved to be effective in resolving, minimizing, and preventing conflicts. And by conflicts I am referring to any of following that take place between two or more people: misunderstanding, miscommunications, arguments, disagreements, mixed messages, fighting, etc.
A. I-Message: Use this approach to convey a message to someone when:
* your communication and that of other person might become hostile;
* communication might become a shouting match; or
* words might turn to physical confrontation.
Put an I-Message into action by following these sequence of steps:
1. Get his attention. (Call person by name.) "John, Bob, Sue, Mary, ..."
2. Identify your emotion. (Identify and name emotion you are feeling.) "I feel/am happy, angry, mad, excited, etc. ..."
3. Name his misconduct. (Identify behavior that is offensive.) " ...when you slam door, spill juice on clean floor, call me names, etc. ..."
4. State consequence(s). (Identify consequence that you wish him/her to change. And stop! Be extremely cautious not to ramble because by doing so you run risk of throwing a spark on cinders.) "... because it/you causes me to jump, have to remop floor, be disrespected, etc."
Putting it together it should sound like this: "John, I get angry when you slam door because it makes me jumpy." (Stop! Wait for a response!)
Research has shown that response is 95-98% non-confrontational or aggressive.) Remember: This approach lets person know that, although you disapprove of his (or her) behavior, you still care about him.