Lost in place: how knowledge work splits mental space from physical space

It once was only poets and storytellers who spent time occupying spaces that weren’t there in front of you. The rest of us were anchored to a plot of land, a cobbler’s bench, or a stall in the market. 

Over the past year, we’ve all been forced to split the mental space we work in from the physical space we inhabit. We’re struggling with the disconnects without quite knowing what’s causing the struggle. As someone who identifies as a knowledge worker, however, this split between mental and physical has been unfolding for a long time. All the pandemic has done, in that respect, is to make the split more visible and observable. As something we can see, we can now examine and explore it.

That’s what I intend to do over the next four weeks. How do the ways we talk and think about place interact with how we talk and think about how we work? 

I’ll be doing this with help from someone I’ve worked with over the last four years and have never met face-to-face. Megan Macedo

is an Irish writer and entrepreneur. She runs a marketing and storytelling consultancy in London where her work is about helping people be themselves in their professional lives. Megan writes and speaks about authenticity in marketing and taking an artistic approach to business (Megan Macedo — Be Yourself, Tell Your Story, Do Something That Matters)

Megan runs writing challenges about this time every year where she gathers an eclectic group of fellow explorers to investigate a theme. This year’s theme is place. 

While we’ve never met IRL, it turns out that Megan and I actually have a connection rooted in place. My paternal grandparents were both born on a tiny island off the North coast of Ireland in County Donegal, Inishbofin. We haven’t nailed down the exact relation yet, but we are connected via my grandmother, Grace Coll (1882-1951). About as clear an example of small world and place as you could wish for.  

2 thoughts on “Lost in place: how knowledge work splits mental space from physical space”

  1. Inishboffin is off the coast of Co. Galway…although there could be more than one of them.
    There are about 70 people living there in winter. Many more in summer.
    Theres a book about it, that might interest you. Island of the White Cow. Deborah Tall.

  2. There are in fact at least two. I’ve been to both. The one in Galway is significantly larger and easier to get to. The one in Donegal is empty much of the year as far as I understand.

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