A year ago, I read a book that quite impressed me. It got me thinking, and eventually led me to join Perspectivity, with great pleasure.
In The Knowledge Illusion, two American scientists explain how little you and I actually know (can you explain how a zipper works?) and how much we depend on the knowledge around us. The power of human mankind is not in our individual knowledge, but in our collective community of knowledge. The book made me better understand what I actually do in my work: collecting, unravelling and disseminating knowledge and experience from that community of knowledge.
Almost six years ago I started working as a writer, editor and researcher on youth and the youth field in the Netherlands and the Middle East. I have written and edited numerous articles, publications, reports, blogs, best practices, essays and journals. But gradually my work changed. Writing became more and more the last step in an assignment, or one of the intermediate steps. I was more and more working on retrieving and interpreting knowledge and experience, by interviewing experts and professionals, reading research, finding the working elements and giving back new insights to clients.
Recently, I’ve collected and analysed the lessons learned in the (local) practice of preventing radicalisation. I interviewed families and youth professionals about the youth care provided to families with complex problems, and what insights we can draw from this for the future. For an NGO, I described its programmes in Iraq, including the impact and evaluation results.
By doing this, I contribute to this collecting, unravelling and disseminating of our joint knowledge and experience, which we need to have an answer to today’s complex social questions.
At the same time, I see that making optimal use of our collective knowledge requires more than a good interview, a sharp interpretation of lessons learned or a cleverly written story. It also requires proficiency in dealing with complex issues, and knowing what complexity actually means. It requires cleverly bringing the right people together, facilitating a good interview, and ensuring that the in-depth knowledge is actually used for the issues we now face.
So that’s what I’m getting more and more involved with. Because these ways of working are necessary for the issues that are close to my heart – youth care, radicalisation, and the future of young people in the Middle East.
Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Please let me know!
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