Physical dissonance in an online world


As I’ve mentioned it at the end of my previous blog post, this online Viva Voce event was significant regarding two specific aspects: the theme of my doctoral study, and the extraordinary period we are all going through right now during this coronavirus crisis.

Indeed, one of the contributions of my thesis relates to the online sharing of tacit knowledge with regard to the Ba concept. If my findings could confirm that this concept deserves to be updated (both the Interacting and the Exercising spaces can now exist online), I have been more cautious than other scholars who claim that the Originating Ba can also be online (e.g. via online video conferencing tools). According to Nonaka & Konno (1998), the Originating Ba can only happen when people are face-to-face in physical spaces because it is the only way to grasp the complexity of physical senses and psycho-emotional characteristics of human beings. This very issue was not entirely part of the scope of my study, and this is the reason why I suggest that further empirical research needs to be undertaken to better understand what is at stake here.

This is particularly important now that an increasingly large number of people are working, collaborating and communicating online because of the quarantine imposed by a large majority of world governments. Even if this is a temporary situation, working remotely from home and online will likely become more widespread after the crisis is over. The reason why I insist on that matter is when I come across information such as in the tweet of Prof. Gianpiero Petriglieri who explains (on behalf of one of his therapist friends) that if some people feel exhausted after video conferencing calls, it is because there is some kind of ‘dissonance’ between our mind (which is ‘online’) and our body, which is in a different physical space. He further explains that it is “easier being in each other’s presence, or in each other’s absence, than in the constant presence of each other’s absence.” and goes on explaining that this is due to the fact that our bodies ‘process so much context […] and information‘. A beautiful example of how the various Ba (spaces) co-exist and influence knowledge sharing, with all the challenges that it implies. This issue is not only relevant to the sharing of tacit knowledge on rich media tools but also on virtual reality technologies (VR).

And you? How do you feel when you’re meeting colleagues (or friends, relatives) online? Does it get easier with time? Or is there always some feeling of uneasiness? Why so? Please drop me a line in the comments here or on Twitter and let’s discuss it.

Online Viva Voce in a time of turmoil


Wait… didn’t I say I was back on track? 🤔

I was. But something happened in the meantime:

  1. The coronavirus crisis
  2. My Viva

Not that I’m looking for excuses. However, these two unrelated events generated more stress and anxiety than I would have forecasted and ultimately, it prevented me to freely express myself on this blog for a while.

The good news is that I’ve passed my Viva (subject to minor corrections). Yay! Of course, this event was supposed to happen in Edinburgh, but since my flights were cancelled, the borders shut down, and a majority of European citizens put in quarantine, there was no other choice than to make it happen online. I have therefore defended my thesis on Zoom, thanks to the flexibility of my two examiners, my panel chair and my director of studies. The irony is that my PhD adventure ended up almost the same way than it started: online. (My interview to get the PhD funding happened on Skype six years ago while I was still living in Geneva).

The Viva went well. Not only the discussions but also the setting itself. It was almost as if we were having this session face-to-face. To the extent that while the examiners were deliberating the outcome of my examination, my dear director of studies ‘invited’ me for a cup of tea…online 😊 When we were finally both invited to come back to the virtual room, the external examiner told me the result. I had to ask him to repeat it twice… not because of some malfunctioning audio-video feature (as one could logically expect it), but because of some emotional turbulence on my side…(ahem). Truly, the only thing that I (terribly) missed, was the possibility to give & receive hugs and invite my colleagues for a drink in a nearby pub. But an online drink was quickly organised to celebrate my success, and soon I was able to be congratulated by all my colleagues online.

So why do I talk about this experience? Not to self-celebrate my personal achievement (although…). More so because this event was significant regarding two specific aspects: the theme of my doctoral study, and the extraordinary period we are all going through right now during this coronavirus crisis. This is the topic I cover in my next blog post. Coming (much) sooner this time. Stay tuned.

Back on track

shallow focus photography of railway during sunset
Photo by Albin Berlin on

Well, well, well….it’s been a while. For your information, I haven’t perished (!) Better than that, I have finally managed to submit my PhD thesis at the very end of December 2019. The Viva is scheduled at the end of March this year so I’ll write more about this when appropriate.

This post is also to announce that I’m back on track (of blog posting I mean). Since I’m (hopefully) approaching the end of my doctoral adventure, the content of this blog will be more and more focused on its initial purpose: to explore the world of knowledge, tacit knowledge, Knowledge Management, and Information Sciences. To that matter, I have finally taken the decision to split my Twitter account into two distinct ones:

  • The Knowledge Explorer (@tacitknowhow) will from now on exclusively cover topics related to Knowledge Management, tacit knowledge, knowledge sharing, data & information, Information Sciences, libraries, and a bit of wisdom,
  • While my personal Twitter account (@irisbuunk) will remain, well, personal.

Last but not least: while I’m getting ready for my Viva, I’m actively looking for a professional position in which I’m looking forward to taking the variety of skills have acquired through my career to the benefit of an organisation. To my readers, if you hear about any position in Knowledge Management or Information Sciences in Europe and preferably within International Organisations or within the public sector, please feel free to let me know. My professional profile is available on LinkedIn.

The appropriate use (or misuse) of knowledge (the way is to shared, managed, capitalised) is becoming increasingly relevant in the complex world we live in. This is particularly true when we consider the variety of challenges waiting for us to be addressed in a not so distant future. I’m therefore looking forward to sharing little gems of knowledge here and there, hoping to humbly contribute to the collective knowledge that connects us all.

Write…or perish?


This title is an analogy to the famous (academic) quote (and reality) ‘Publish or perish‘, which emphasises how much vital it is for scientists to publish if they want to ‘survive’ in the academic world. To this end, I’m obviously relieved to learn that my third article co-written with my two supervisors (Prof Hazel Hall and Dr Colin Smith) has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Librarianship and Information Science (JOLIS). Moreover, it also acknowledges the validity of my study, even though I’m not done with it yet.

The challenging act of writing

So why this title? Because despite this recent victory, I’m presently in the painful and slow process (or let’s rather call it agony) of writing up my thesis, and if I fail to do so, I (the PhD student that I am) will ‘perish’ for sure! I could attempt to justify myself by complaining that writing ‘per se’ is an arduous process, particularly so when it is not in my native language, and even more so when it is in an academic style. These are indeed significant challenges which – when piled up together – illustrate well how it can hinder my productivity. However, being in the middle of my 4th doctoral year, I was expecting from myself to be a little bit more at ease with this process by now. But am I deluding myself? Perhaps…

A thesis isn’t a book

Discussing with my colleagues from university (this includes my PhD mates as well as members of the academic staff) – I found out that everyone has been through a writer’s block during the writing of their thesis. And not only once. My supervisor warned me recently that I’m not writing a book, but a thesis (which is never finished and yet has to be finished at some point). An academic friend of mine also told me that the thesis is entirely different from writing a book because you don’t have the choice to finish it. Writing a thesis he said, is like banging your head against a brick wall, until a breakthrough occurs. Sounds fun, isn’t it? Well, at least I can testify that my head is certainly banging on the writing block, so maybe I’m on the right path after all.

A known syndrome

The impostor syndrome, which can lead to procrastination, and bring up all kind of emotions such as fear, guilt, lack of trust, comparison, perfectionism, and so on, does not facilitate the process of writing of course. Much as been discussed on this phenomena, since it concerns many writers (academics or not). Plenty of books, seminars, articles, providing all kind of support and advice are available for those of us who are affected by this so well known syndrome. I did read some of these books, articles, blog posts, and even attended seminars. Yet, the problem seems to persist. So what can be done?

Focused & grateful

I feel, that it has more to do with an inner ruthless resolution. With gathering the courage and faith, that this work is going to be done, no matter what.  The thought that this thesis might not get written – which would consequently lead to failing my PhD – isn’t quite pleasant to consider after all. When I think about all the sacrifices that not only I but also all the close family and friends have made for me to be here, it helps me to pursue my efforts, out of respect for them, and for myself. This insight could quickly shift to a threatening pressure though, which would bring me back to the writing block, and that’s not the point. I think the trick here is to be grateful. Grateful for being here, in this overall process, however difficult it can be. Grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do a PhD and writing a thesis.

Faith in the process

I’m not alone. Support is always here and now, coming from another dimension I too often overlook. To remind myself that I started this PhD out of (spiritual) faith reminds me that what matters is the journey itself, not so much the destination. This helpful book I’m presently reading, and the rest I’m having out of a few days of illness, gently bring me back to a zone where I slowly feel again in alignment with myself. May this reconnection lead me towards action and the completion of my thesis.


Image copyright: Cooozza

Another castle on a hill


Dear all,

This is a wee message to inform you that I have now moved to Slovenia, a hidden gem nestled between Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. I already miss Scotland, but Ljubljana, the capital of the country where I’ve settled in, also has a castle on a hill, which is a really nice reminder of Edinburgh where I used to live.

Otherwise, nothing much has changed. I will keep on working on my PhD and blog about it here, with now and then a few hints regarding my new location.

More news to follow…