Social Networking Tools at NASA

Online social networking: The glue that binds people together at NASA,

"... I tied the process and implementation of the pilot back to the elements of glue. In NASAsphere, an adhesive layer was created by building trust into the network, as well as setting expectations of participation. Mechanisms for bonding were described by NASAsphere participants, when asked "is social networking just for Gen Y, or can anyone do it?" They mentioned "attitude and openness," "willingness to embrace (new things)," "'ageless' attitude," and an "attitude to can overcome fears," amongst other things. Testing the bonds really comes down to the activity level and results of the group of people."

Findings from the NASAsphere Pilot

Keith's note: In all fairness I was not able to see or use the NASAsphere system nor am I allowed to post comments at That said, based on the excellent materials in this post and discussions with some actual users, I have to ask what the value is of NASA reinventing the wheel when other social networking tools are already publicly available. Indeed, NASA seems to be working on several competing/duplicative systems with another one at GSFC supposedly about to go online. This is being done at a time when the agency still has no established guidelines as to how social network tools could or should be used at the agency.

More importantly, instead of creating in-house, NASA-branded social network systems and thus perpetuating a closed society that is impenetrable to the outside world, NASA employees should be increasing their interactions with the external (real) world - not avoiding them. NASA needs to use all of these readily available tools to become more transparent - not more opaque.

Oh yes: look at the expensive mess that NASA has gotten into with ODIN, NOMAD etc. Does anyone really expect that an internal NASA social networking system would ever keep pace with the tools that the rest of the world will be using? Imagine what would have resulted if NASA had tried to invent Twitter ...

NASA's CIOs are all meeting in Huntsville. Hopefully they are talking about this issue. The tools are already out there waiting to be used.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on June 10, 2009 1:05 AM.

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