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.

2 thoughts on “Physical dissonance in an online world

  1. Dear Iris,

    first of all, I would like to congratulate you for your achievement. I finished my PhD recently (2017) and I know how you feel, despite in my case it didn’t happen virtually.

    About online sharing of tacit knowledge, I have some resistence in accept that it occurs in its fullness.

    In my thesis, I defend that tacit knowledge sharing depends on differents levels of immersion, as we can see in RIBEIRO, R. (2007). Knowledge transfer. School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University.

    It is a interesting discussion. I would like read your work, if possible and continuing to explore this subject.

    With respect,

    Mauro Câmara


    1. Dear Mauro, I so much appreciate your answer. You’re right, tacit knowledge (a “broad” term for the specialists that we are), isn’t necessarily fully shared online. That was actually the point of my blog post. I do have the references of Ribeiro’s work in my extended bibliography, but I did overlook his work on ‘immersion’. Could you expand on that? Meanwhile, you can have a look at my work here (outputs):


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