How NASA Might Learn Something From The Rest Of Us

Keith's note: I saw this TV ad for Bayer aspirin the other day featuring a window washer. I found the commentary to be interesting. Usually TV ads are not very deep intellectually. Having done window washing exactly once on a much smaller building (only 6 stories) when I was in my first rock climbing phase in college in the 70s, (and having climbed things 10 times higher years later when I worked at NASA) I can relate to what the guy in the ad is saying about doing this for a living:

"The first time that I was up on a high rise cleaning a window I was terrified. But once I made it to the ground I was stoked. I needed to do it again. That moment when you are going over the edge is like getting on the rocket that is going to Mars. You need to be clear minded. I have to feel my best to be able to do my best ..."

NASA is constantly trying to better convey to people just what it is that the agency does to be relevant to their daily lives. Sometimes they get it right. More often NASA is really only talking to itself and misses the mark entirely. Assuming that this window washer is more or less speaking honestly from his own experience, he's relating how he does a risk/benefit analysis every day. Sound familiar? And his way of expressing it to others has to do with what he imagines an astronaut goes through. I wonder how many other seemingly commonplace occupations share these similarities - if only NASA would seek them out.

There's a lot of talk during election time of "flyover country" or the "99%" - in other words the majority of people who usually do not figure into all of the rhetoric. Perhaps if NASA started to listen to people outside of the usual suspects that they usually cater to they might find memes and messages that they can use to better explain what NASA does and why it does these things. In the process, perhaps NASA itself can better understand what it is doing and maybe how they might tweak these things so as to be more relatable to the people who pay for all the shiny rockets. Just sayin'

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on August 3, 2018 7:12 PM.

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