(Written by Pamela) I first met Stephen Musgrave at a workshop, organised by the UK Open University (around 2006). As I recall the theme was about bringing together academics and practitioners - certainly that was my interest in being there. (It was also a very special event for me because, although I am an OU graduate with enormous affection and appreciation for the OU,  I had never visited the campus before.)

Stephen gave a short presentation related to his PhD. He was talking about IT and government - but the ideas had much wider relevance. According to my recollection he was talking about situations where there are top-down initiatives and there are also bottom-up initiatives addressing the same issue - both using IT - but somehow flowing past each other and failing to meet in the middle. He emphasised the need for a "tzar" from each group, and a neutral meeting place where they could meet each other on equal terms.

He described this meeting place as an area of confluence (I guess because it was where the two different information streams could start to flow together). The term was taken up by many of the workshop participants in subsequent discussions. It proved valuable in describing various experiences relating to cross cultural communication (including academic-practitioner difficulties). It is an idea I still refer to.

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