Recently in Internet Policies Category
How journals like Nature, Cell and Science are damaging science, opinion, The Guardian
"We all know what distorting incentives have done to finance and banking. The incentives my colleagues face are not huge bonuses, but the professional rewards that accompany publication in prestigious journals - chiefly Nature, Cell and Science. ... These journals aggressively curate their brands, in ways more conducive to selling subscriptions than to stimulating the most important research. Like fashion designers who create limited-edition handbags or suits, they know scarcity stokes demand, so they artificially restrict the number of papers they accept. The exclusive brands are then marketed with a gimmick called "impact factor" - a score for each journal, measuring the number of times its papers are cited by subsequent research. Better papers, the theory goes, are cited more often, so better journals boast higher scores. Yet it is a deeply flawed measure, pursuing which has become an end in itself - and is as damaging to science as the bonus culture is to banking."
Keith's note: NASA is completely addicted to the mindset mentioned in this opinion piece. NASA allows itself to have terms dictated to them by Science and Nature as to how and when research news can be released rather than the other way around. Yet NASA has an "impact factor" and "reach" that vastly eclipses anything that these journals can offer. Its time for NASA to grow a spine and tell these journals that NASA is going to set the rules with regard to when and how NASA-funded research is going to be released.
Keith's note: The other day NASA sent out media advisories urging news media to cover NASA-sponsored and related events at the Fall AGU meeting in San Francisco from 9-13 December. But as is usually the case NASA cannot seem to coordinate among itself when more than one center is involved.
NASA HQ and NASA Ames put out media advisories that state "Briefings will be streamed for registered journalists on the AGU press conference Web page. They will not be carried on NASA Television."
JPL put out the same media advisory but added detail:
"The briefings will be streamed for registered journalists on the AGU press conference Web page. Some news conference will be available via live streaming at http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2, as follows:
Monday, 9 a.m. PST- Curiosity Rover Update
Monday, 10:30 a.m. PST - Mapping Snowpack from the Sky
Tuesday, 9 a.m. PST - Improving Natural Hazard Warnings
Tuesday, 10:30 a.m. PST - News from Juno's Earth Flyby
Tuesday, 11:30 a.m. PST - Dynamic Mars Over Time
Thursday, 11:30 a.m. PST - New Results from Cassini Mission to Saturn
The briefings will not be carried on NASA Television."
While these events will not be sent out on NASA Television, most people who watch NASA Television on the web do so via NASA's UStream webstreaming accounts. So, why can't NASA's TV page link to these webcasts? Clearly there is some infrastructure in place whereby JPL is able to stream events over UStream. The events listed as being streamed are only JPL-associated events with JPL people involved. Why can't this web streaming hardware be left in place to stream other NASA events? AGU apparenly has a UStream system in place, why can't NASA tap that?
More importantly, why didn't JPL PAO tell ARC, HQ, and other NASA centers that this would be streamed so as to make sure that the media advisories that "NASA" sent out were all in synch? Curiously both the JPL and HQ media advisories list Stephen Cole from NASA HQ PAO on them - so there is some level of contact between JPL and HQ PAO - at least on paper. Coles's response to my inquiries on this matter: "confusing, I know, but such is the wonderful world of multimedia color we live in." In other words 'yea, so what'?
In addition to these AGU media advisories there is a separate NASA HQ advisory that was put out for a Mars Curiosity radiation briefing at AGU. MSL is a JPL mission. But wait, since no one on the panel is from JPL, JPL is not going to live stream it. But NASA HQ says they will provide an audio stream for news media and the public and JPL makes mo mention of the event or the audio streaming. And you wonder why the agency has 3 (or 4) official MSL websites?
Last week NASA SMD held an online Town Hall meeting with the planetary science community to discuss budget issues. Next week at AGU there will be many more of these official NASA-sanctioned events wherein NASA representatives tell attendees (taxpayers too) what the challengers are in the months and years ahead. There is no apparent way for NASA researchers to participate in these Town Hall meetings unless they pay the expense of going to a meeting operated by a third party.
AGU claims there is a virtual viewing option (which is confusing to use and tries to charge you $103 for "free" access) that offers free webstreaming but does not allow any interaction - which is odd since its rather simple to enable the chat function on these webstreaming events. I am now told someone is going to "fix" that. Meawhile, media has some access to online NASA press events but that assumes that the AGU decides that you warrant media accreditation. NASA has no input to that process.
In summary: instead of having all NASA AGU-related events in one place so as to best inform the news media, scientific community, and public as to what is happening and how to see/participate, NASA's directorates, centers, programs, and Headquarters all seem to be running in a different direction ignoring obvious overlaps, points of cooperation, and ways to utilize limited fiscal resources.
"Several space agencies are staging a global media event on Twitter this week to mark the 15th anniversary of the International Space Station. The Canadian Space Agency, NASA, the European Space Agency and JAXA, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, will launch a worldwide wave on Twitter, beginning at 7 p.m. eastern Tuesday evening. That will be midnight GMT -- the official time zone of the orbiting space laboratory."
Keith's note: I guess I missed the NASA announcement on this Twitter event that starts in 3 hours. Indeed, looking at NASA.gov, spaceflight.nasa.gov, nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/, and nasa.gov/connect/social/ I see zero mention of this Twitter event. Baffling.
Keith's note: At bottom of this release "Mars Rover Teams Dub Sites in Memory of Bruce Murray", JPL has included "For more information about Opportunity, visit http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/msl , http://www.nasa.gov/rovers and http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov . For more information about Curiosity, visit http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl" .
Two missions - five websites.
First for the Opportunity links. if you go to http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ you do not get anything on Opportunity but rather its a Curiosity page. If you go to http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov it redirects you to http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.html at JPL. If you go to http://www.nasa.gov/rovers it redirects you to http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mer/index.html at NASA HQ. If you go to the NASA HQ rover site it has a link to a JPL rover website at http://marsrover.nasa.gov/home/index.html it does not link to http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov. And http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov is identical to http://marsrover.nasa.gov/home/index.html. So, one of the three links listed has nothing to do with Opportunity. The NASA HQ MER site links to a JPL MER site but it is at a different address than the JPL MER website listed in the release even though the content is identical.
Now for the Curiosity links. If you go to http://www.nasa.gov/msl it redirects you to http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/index.html at NASA HQ. If you go to http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl you end up at a MSL website at JPL. The NASA HQ MSL site points to the JPL MSL site but the JPL MSL site does not point to the NASA HQ MSL site.
So, NASA is paying to maintain two MSL websites and the web addresses they give out are different than the actual web addresses - but they won't bother to put the actual addresses in press releases. Meanwhile, NASA is paying for 2 (or 3) MER websites - and again the links put in the press release are not the actual website address. And a website link that has "MSL" in it is listed as a place to get MER information. In total 5 links are included for 2 missions - and JPL PAO seems to think this is just fine. Meanwhile NASA PAO and SMD have the nerve to moan and complain about lack of education and public outreach funds? They are squandering their money on overlapping websites that don't even coordinate their content or links. I have raised this issue at several SMD media telecons. All they say is "we'll look into it". They don't. They just don't care about being efficient or coordinating. No - they just want more money and refuse to change the way that they operate. Clueless.
Oh yes --- did you know that NASA's Constellation Program is building the Altair Lunar Lander that will land on the moon by 2020? Moreover, the Altair will be launched on the Ares V rocket. HEOMD has an incredibly tangled web presence too.
- Why Does NASA Maintain Three (Four) Different MSL Websites?
- Why does NASA need multiple websites for the same mission?, earlier post
- NASA's Tangled Human Spaceflight Web Presence, earlier post
- NASA's Sprawling Web Presence, earlier post
- NASA's Inability To Speak With One Voice Online, earlier post
Keith's note: Have a look at the Twitter account @ExperienceNASA. It describes itself as "Welcome to your one-stop shop for opportunities to participate in/contribute to NASA goals/missions! Need help? Ask me! Washington, DC nasa.gov". This site is openly operated by NASA civil servant Erika Vick from her desk during the work day as part of her job as executive secretary of the NASA Advisory Council Education and Public Outreach Subcommittee. NASA has confirmed this to me more than once.
Yet when you ask Erika whether this site expresses her opinions or official NASA opinions, she tweeted "@ExperienceNASA isn't official" and also tweeted "@ExperienceNASA points to http://nasa.gov ...any account can do that...had hopes it would be but alas". Yet Erika's personnal Twitter account says "@ExperienceNASA by day". Erika can't have it both ways. If she is going to sit at her desk and use a Twitter account to overtly do her day job and configure the Twitter page so as to give a clear impression that NASA is behind it then she needs to operate it in a fashion commensurate with official NASA social media accounts. Otherwise she needs to make sure it is clear that this is a personal effort she does during coffee breaks. She can't have it both ways.
Is it good to try and enhance NASA EPO? Yes. Is it bad to mislead people in so doing? Yes. Once again it is clear that NASA has no standard policy for use of social media.
"Backed by Intel and Dell, Mirantis has emerged as a clear leader in the OpenStack world heavily promoting and supporting the adoption of the platform originally developed by NASA and Rackspace."
NASA CIO Dumps NASA-Developed Open Stack, earlier post
"NASA's prestige and participation has been a selling point for advocates of the OpenStack open source cloud project, which NASA co-founded with San Antonio infrastructure-as-a-service provider RackSpace. Unfortunately, they'll have to get along without NASA from here on."
Keith's note: If you are outside the NASA firewall and try to access NTRS you still get this notice:
"The NASA technical reports server will be unavailable for public access while the agency conducts a review of the site's content to ensure that it does not contain technical information that is subject to U.S. export control laws and regulations and that the appropriate reviews were performed. The site will return to service when the review is complete. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."
But if you try to gain access internally and are a civil servant or contractor you can register and then gain access. But wait, wasn't access by contractors supposed to have been the problem in the first place? Why doesn't a warning appear on the screen that tells contractor employees who are citizens of "China, Burma, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan" not to bother?
- Why Has NASA Banned Access to its Partner Saudi Arabia?, earlier post
- NASA Technical Reports Server Mysteriously Taken Offline, earlier post
"The International Space Apps Challenge is a technology development event during which citizens from around the world work together to solve challenges relevant to improving life on Earth and life in space. Join us in over 75 cities around the world or at home on April 20-21, 2013."
Keith's note: At the NASA Advisory Council Committee on Education and Public Outreach meeting on Tuesday, Leland Melvin, the AA for Education at NASA, lamented why people are not promoting the International Space Apps challenge and urged committee members to spread the word. Well ... have a look at the NASA Education website. No mention is made of the International Space Apps Challenge. No mention at the NASA CIO, NASA Open Government, or NASA.gov's calendar either. Yawn.
"I think it is inexcusable that NASA has not made more of an effort to promote things such as the International Space Apps Challenge - especially when the White House places such a priority on things like this. There is much risk in this ad hoc and dysfunctional public engagement policy at NASA. Now that the first apps challenge event was such a success, efforts like this could continue - without overt NASA involvement - thus making NASA less - rather than more relevant. If that happens NASA only has itself to blame."
Keith's update: Here's a related event that also gets zero mention on NASA's Education website - or on NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate - the sponsor of the event itself.
Dark Side of the Jam: 'On March 8th, game developers around the planet will gather to make games about space and science. The Dark Side of the Jam is open to all, whether you're a veteran developer, hobbyist, or student. Ideally your games will not only be great achievements in coding prowess, but will help capture the public's interest in the real science and technology advancements being made in aerospace exploration. DSJ is an educational project of the Night Rover Challenge. Learn more about this $1.5 Million dollar NASA Centennial Challenge for advanced energy storage technology."
"NASA and Internet Archive, a non-profit digital library based in San Francisco, made available the most comprehensive compilation ever of NASA's vast collection of photographs, historic film and video Thursday. Located at www.nasaimages.org, the Internet site combines for the first time 21 major NASA imagery collections into a single, searchable online resource. A link to the Web site will appear on the http://www.nasa.gov home page."
Keith's note: If you go to www.nasaimages.org you will see that it is no longer totally dedicated to NASA content as this 2008 press release states. It used to look like this. Instead it redirects visitors to http://www.dvidshub.net/unit/NASA i.e. the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System which is mostly about guns, tanks, war, weapons, etc. This website is apparently operated by U.S. Army/USARCENT (Third Army).
What is really odd is that the domain nasaimages.org is still registered to NASA - MSFC to be specific. Here's the current registration info. This makes no sense whatsoever. NASA has never bothered to explain this.
Keith's note: If you go to the NASA CIO webpage or the CIO's blog you will see absolutely no mention of this stolen laptop or the activities that followed. Some of the individuals affected by this event have not worked for NASA for more than a decade. As such, you would think that there would be somewhere at NASA.gov to get information as to what they should do. The CIO page is a logical place to look. Yet another example as to how the entire CIO organization is simply clueless and tone deaf when it comes to the interests of the agency's employees - past and present.
NASA Is the Government's One True Viral Hit Factory, Atlantic Wire
"NASA may only consume0.5 percent of the federal budget, but it generates practically all of Uncle Sam's viral marketing buzz.Never was that more apparent than on Monday morning following the successful Mars landing of Curiosity, the biggest and most advancedspacecraft ever dispatched to another planet. In an explosion of tweets, Tumbls, status updates, and blog posts, the Internet showed its love of NASA in a way other parts of the government could only dream of. So what's NASA's secret?"
"In the existing infrastructure without our delivery partners, NASA may have to cap the number of visitors and hours of web streaming coverage or eliminate it entirely for particular peak activities. This would force visitors to seek content from other venues that may or may not cover NASA missions. To avoid this situation, NASA seeks to broaden its ability to reach new audiences and numbers of people through access to multiple venues."
Keith's note: One night in January I got frustrated trying to find something on NASA's Human Spaceflight website(s). So, I decided to map them. As you can see from this chart (enlarge), NASA's HSF web presence - like much of NASA's sprawling cyber infrastructure - is an unorganized mess. Yet despite this convoluted web structure, people often manage to find things simply because a lot of what NASA does is so compellingly cool. People find this stuff despite the convoluted and confused way that NASA organizes things (Google).
As I have already noted, most missions at NASA have two, often three (or more) official websites and web addresses. The websites are often out of synch with each other and yet also duplicative - at the same time. NASA also has multiple entry points for the same topic, dead ends, and pages that reflect programs that are dead. I sent this chart over to NASA. They agreed: its a mess. 5 months later. No change. So I thought I'd share it with y'all.
NASA's Inability To Speak With One Voice Online, earlier post
"This memorandum reinforces NASA policy regarding the protection of Sensitive but Unclassified (SBU) information. The memorandum applies to all Centers, Mission Directorates and their supporting commercial contractors that process NASA information. Individuals responsible for handling SBU information should be cognizant of the requirements outlined within this memorandum to ensure the protection of all SBU data."
- Stolen KSC Laptop Has Employee Personal Info On It (Update), earlier post
- NASA IT Security is a Mess - Stolen Laptops and Hacking JPL, earlier post
"Between April 2009 and April 2011, NASA reported the loss or theft of 48 Agency mobile computing devices, some of which resulted in the unauthorized release of sensitive data including export-controlled, Personally Identifiable Information (PII), and third-party intellectual property. For example, the March 2011 theft of an unencrypted NASA notebook computer resulted in the loss of the algorithms used to command and control the International Space Station...."
"...In one of the successful attacks, intruders stole user credentials for more than 150 NASA employees - credentials that could have been used to gain unauthorized access to NASA systems. Our ongoing investigation of another such attack at JPL involving Chinese-based Internet protocol (IP) addresses has confirmed that the intruders gained full access to key JPL systems and sensitive user accounts."
"The NASA IT Security program is transforming and maturing. The real-world requirement is to protect NASA's information and information systems at a level commensurate with mission needs and information value. Therefore, NASA is increasing visibility and responsiveness through enhanced information security monitoring of NASA's systems across the Agency."
"A laptop stolen from NASA last year contained command codes used to control the International Space Station, an internal investigation has found. The laptop, which was not encrypted, was among dozens of mobile devices lost or stolen in recent years that contained sensitive information, the space agency's inspector general told Congress today in testimony highlighting NASA's security challenges."
"The Japanese space agency has admitted that a computer virus may have stolen sensitive information from their networks - including blueprints for a spacecraft. Hackers could sell on the information or blackmail the space agency for its return. A terminal connected to networks belonging to the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) was infected with a Trojan. Data that could have been revealed includes email addresses, system log-in information and, crucially, the specification and operation of the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV)."
Keith's note: I have posted questions for Beth Beck at HEOMD, sent email requests, and yet no one has responded. Based on previous dysfunctional interactions with HEOMD (SOMD and ESMD) I have to conclude that my requests are being ignored - on purpose. Yawn. Oh well, this is not exactly a new behavior on NASA's part. So much for the openness and transparency policies established by the White House that the Open.gov folks love to brag about. NASA seems to think it is exempt. I guess it is time for a bunch of old-fashioned FOIA requests.
And yes Beth, I will FOIA your complaints about me to the OGC, etc.
- NASA, Google, and Lenovo Team Up for ISS Educational Project, earlier post
- Yet Another Stealth Website NASA Can't Coordinate, earlier post
- Questions for Beth Beck Regarding FragileOasis.org, earlier post
"The site is a collaborative blog for the open government community to highlight the ways that transparency, participation, and collaboration are being embraced throughout the agency. "NASA is committed to experimenting with and embracing new participatory ways of collaboration," said Linda Cureton, the agency's chief information officer. "The launch of open.NASA is a new chapter in NASA's culture of openness and an exciting new way to engage citizens in our activities."
"NASA will host a summit about open source software development on March 29-30 at the agency's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PDT on both days. NASA's first Open Source Summit will bring together engineers, policy makers and members of the open source community. Participants will discuss the challenges within the existing open source policy framework and propose modifications to facilitate NASA's development, release and use of software."
Register as a remote participant.
Live streaming of the event can be found here.
Keith's note: As much as I loathe the overuse of the word "awesome" by Gen Y, the NASA Advisory Council took an informal vote during lunch break and asked me to post this video. Tip of the hat to NASA PAO. Direct link for those of you that have YouTube blocked by NASA.
Keith's update: A Carnegie astronomer notes: "While brimming with enthusiasm, this video makes a major error by claiming that JWST will be able "to see the Earth" if it was 25 light-years away. Sadly, this is not true. Here is what the JWST web page states is the true capability of JWST: "Webb can only see large planets orbiting at relatively large distances from the parent star. To see small Earth-like planets, which are billions of time fainter than their parent star, a space telescope capable of seeing at even higher angular resolution will be required. NASA is studying such a space mission, the Terrestrial Planet Finder." This quote is from the JWST web page located at: http://www.jwst.nasa.gov/faq.html#basic JWST will do fantastic science, but if someone says that it will do things that are impossible for it to do, the entire project is likely to suffer.
"The use of Web 2.0 tools can significantly enhance NASA's ability to communicate with employees and the public about its mission. The purpose of this memorandum is to provide guidance to NASA civil service and contractor employees regarding the use of these Web technologies to facilitate collaboration and information sharing within NASA. These Web technologies include tools such as wikis, blogs, mash ups, web feeds (i.e., Really Simple Syndication and Rich Site Summary (RSS) feeds), social networking sites (e.g., Facebook), and forums, which are often collectively referred to as Web 2.0.
Using social media in a professional capacity (e.g., creating a Twitter feed for a mission) is an example of an official NASA communication. The informality and enforced brevity of such media notwithstanding, NASA personnel using Web 2.0 tools are representing the agency, and their communications must be professional and factually accurate."
Keith's note: An example of the implications of this policy: those of you who have Twitter accounts that you use to relay information about NASA can no longer block people from following you. You need to be open and transparent about the information you relay as a NASA employee (civil servant and contractor). If you cannot refrain from Twittering about both personal and work-related stuff then a remarkably simple solution is to get another Twitter account for your personal use.
"The core technology developed for NASA's Nebula cloud computing platform has been selected as a contributor for OpenStack, a newly-launched open source cloud computing initiative. It will pull together more than 25 companies to play a key role in driving cloud computing standards for interoperability and portability."
"Torlini acknowledged the concerns that many users have about security in the cloud. However, he said freeing up the code would present more opportunities to improve security. He also stressed that this shouldn't be seen as purely a Rackspace initiative, "Everyone is welcome to contribute," he said."
"Modern scientific computation requires ever increasing storage and processing power delivered on demand," said NASA CTO Chris Kemp in a statement. "To serve this demand, we built Nebula, an infrastructure cloud platform designed to meet the needs of our scientific and engineering community. NASA and Rackspace are uniquely positioned to drive this initiative based on our experience in building large scale cloud platforms and our desire to embrace open source."
"The new OpenStack project will power NASA's own Nebula cloud and puts new pressure on Eucalyptus, as well as Amazon's EC2 and the whole Hadoop ecosystem. The system is being released under an Apache 2 license."
"NASA announced Thursday it has joined the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The consortium is an international organization that develops protocols, standards and guidelines to ensure universal Web access. "Standards will play a key role in making NASA's content more accessible on the Internet and in the implementation of our Open Government plan," said Chris Kemp, chief technology officer for Information Technology at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Additionally, standards nurture technology innovation. We are especially interested in participating in those areas where NASA's ongoing technical requirements overlap with the W3C's standardization efforts."
"The challenges to government's adoption and participation in open-source communities is often thought to be a simpe culture clash, but in reality it goes deeper than that, accordning to NASA's newly-appointed chief technology officer. "The issues that we need to tackle are not only cuture, but beyond culture," said Chris Kemp, formerly chief information officer at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. "And I think we need new policy and support from the administration and Congress to help us tackle" them."
"NASA Chief Information Officer Linda Cureton announced Chris C. Kemp as the first NASA Chief Technology Officer, or CTO, for Information Technology, a new position established to lead IT innovation at the space agency."
Keith's note: NASA civil servant Nick Skytland is one of the Education and Public Outreach Officers for NEEMO-14. He is overtly using his Twitter account for the performance of his official duties - yet he still blocks specific taxpayers from following his postings. I have to wonder when NASA CIO Linda Cureton will finally put a social media policy in place at NASA that deals with such flagrant abuses of one's position as a NASA employee.
"Like the Senate bill introduced in 2009 by Senators Lieberman (I-CT) and Cornyn (R-TX), H.R. 5037 would unlock unclassified research funded by agencies including: Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Science Foundation."
"The following reports could not be located:
- A-GO-96-006, Survey of NASA Space Operations Consolidation;
- JS-96-007, Russian Involvement in the ISS Program;
- AKE-96-001, Orbiter Valuation;
- G98-0I8, Modifications to NASA's Safety Reporting System;
- IGMEMO 11, (sic); and
- an unredacted version of IG-99-036, X-38/Crew Return Vehicle Operational
NASA's Nebula rolls out in the cloud, Federal News Radio
"Nebula is 18 months old and is literally rolling along. Agencies across the federal government are exploring cloud computing, but NASA's work in the area could be become the poster child for its use. Their Nebula Cloud Computing Platform at the Ames Research Center in California is being touted as a possible model for others. Chris Kemp, chief information officer of NASA Ames, explains the benefits of Nebula. "The real thrust of the project was making it easier for NASA to make its data accessible on the Web. NASA started using the Internet long ago, and, as a result, we have thousands of public-facing Web sites, and in today's environment, that's expensive to operate. It's also a large attack surface from a security perspective. We're trying to make it easier and more secure for NASA data to be accessed by our partners and the public."
NASA Idea Brainstorming Tool, Open Government at NASA
"NASA is seeking input on the creation of the NASA Open Government Plan. As outlined in the Open Government Directive, this brainstorming tool is a mechanism gain input on how to make the key principle of openness a meaningful pillar of NASA's mission, and how to implement participation, transparency and collaboration activities such that NASA becomes more relevant, efficient, and accountable. Key ideas and suggestions developed through this process will be prioritized in the NASA Open Government Plan."
"- Associate Administrator for Public Affairs Briefing.
- Discussion of Social Media Opportunities and Challenges.
- Associate Administrator for Education Briefing.
- Discussion of Opportunities and Challenges to Reach K-12 Students.
- Discussion of how to Organize the Committee Work Plan."
Keith's note: All of these NAC committee and subcommittee meetings are almost always held in a windowless conference room inside NASA HQ. If you can get to them then you can sit and listen - if you happen to read the Federal Register or NASA Watch and even know that they are happening. Otherwise, you are out of luck since NASA never records them for later viewing by taxpayers. Given the tremendous changes that have been proposed for the agency, employees and the public have a vested interest in these discussions - now more than at any time in recent years.
The NASA people who supported the Augustine Committee's activities set a new standard for how social media can be used to relay policy information to the public. Indeed, they often had things online before the media covering these events did. There is no reason why that standard of quality should not be applied to all public meetings concerning NASA policy.
Given that the Obama Administration is all about openness, transparency and all that good public participation stuff - and that this meeting is about "Education and Public Outreach" perhaps PAO AA Morrie Goodman (a scheduled speaker) can start with this subcommittee and provide a live webcast of this event on NASA's USTREAM.TV account. The webcast can be archived for later viewing.
It is very easy to do. All it takes is a laptop, a webcam, and an Internet connection. I have done these things on an EVDO modem live at Desert RATS from the middle of an Arizona desert, from the basement of Rayburn House Office Building, and from Everest Base Camp in Nepal at 17,500 feet over a satellite phone.
Photo: Keith addressing a session at a broadcasters convention in Atlanta in April 2009 via laptop webcam live over a BGAN satellite phone from a field outside the monastery in Tengboche, Nepal. Note the very, very dense fog - yaks lurked in the mist a few feet away. Larger image
@Astro_Soichi is sending back pictures - live - from ISS via Twitter and Twitpic:
But wait - there's more yet to come from orbit: according to JT Creamer: RT @Astro_TJ: @space_pete Yes it's true: our internal cameras wlll stream to the Web beginning Monday! Wave when you see us!! :)
NASA's space tweets are part of a larger conversation, Government Computing News
"... the software upgrade that made it possible is pretty impressive. The system, which NASA calls the Crew Support LAN, taps into existing communications links -- a Ku satellite band with 3 megabits/sec upstream and 10 megabits/sec downstream -- to give astronauts Web access, along with the ability to better communicate with family and loved ones during their long stays on the space station. All that while traveling at 17,300 mph some 250 miles above the Earth."
"Check out the free NASA Images iPhone App, a window to the content available on nasaimages.org. With the app you can access the entire NASA Images library from your iPhone along with the metadata for each image, video, and animation."
Ground control to NASA TV: liven up, LA Times
"The man in charge of Washington, D.C.-based NASA Television, executive producer Fred Brown, acknowledges that the network is light-years from where it could be if it had the money and a mandate to properly entertain the masses. But that was never the point, he said. The network was launched in the early 1970s strictly to provide "real-time mission coverage" for NASA's own personnel, Brown said. "It wasn't designed as a television channel as most people would think of a television channel," he added. Over the years, its role has grown; it now offers educational programs and serves a public-relations function by keeping the media informed about space-related news."
"It's not just NASA that's hip to the social media game anymore. Now, the Russian space agency Roscosmos has one of its own blogging from the International Space Station."
Orbital log Maksim Suraev's blog, Russia Today
"In the photo I'm holding the latest gadget developed by our military. The device works in two modes. One allows eavesdropping on our colleagues in the American segment. You can get into the FCB (Functional Cargo Block - ed.) and record all their conversations. Also, the device can be used for martial arts training - to be prepared for an alien attack on the Russian segment of the ISS."
Keith's note: This page just appeared at NASA.gov about new NASA PAO AA Morrie Goodman. Oddly, no press release was issued about his arrival at NASA or of Alan Ladwig's move to be one of his two deputies.
Keith's earlier note: MorrieStory, the Twitter account for NASA's new AA for PAO, Morrie Goodman, does not follow a single NASA Twitter!! Tsk Tsk. Maybe he needs a few followers to urge him on ... You can friend him on Facebook too.
Facebook for scientists: Map your expertise, Indiana University
"Indiana University has received more than $1.8 million from the National Institutes of Health to collaborate on a $12.2 million, seven-university project designed to network researchers around the country. While the proposed new networking system will contain authentication mechanisms to protect sensitive data and intellectual property, it is being described as a Facebook for scientists."
"The new system will federate information about faculty and staff from institutional repositories, listings of published articles from academic publishers, and information provided by researchers. Using Vivo, users can search the information and assemble it on a unique page."
Keith's note: Too bad NASA can't do this. Spacebook (internal NASA access only) doesn't really count since only NASA employees inside the firewall can see it - and other field centers have their own competing systems. Taxpayers are denied access. If this sort of information were out in the open, in an easy to use format, not only would NASA and NASA-funded personnel have easier access to what eaveryoen was doing, but so would the taxpaying public. Indeed, this might even lead to unexpected avenues of collaboration between NASA and the outside world.
I think every employee at NASA - from Charlie Bolden to maintenance workers - civil servants and contractors alike - should be required to have and maintain a Facebook Page. Nothing fancy - just who they are and what they do. Performance plan, job description, and recent publications etc. You can set these things up in an hour or less and tweak them when need be. If they want to make it fancier beyond that - great. No need to make it their personal page - they can do that elsewhere. I am talking about a professional page.
In addition to making NASA more open to various search engines, this might also serve to enlighten policy makers and the public as to what vast range of things NASA actually does, how real (and normal) the NASA family actually is, and that they are a part of the economy - and society - just like everyone else. Right now most of what NASA actually does is hidden behind a firewall in a black box with PAO as the only one with a key.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Launches Spacebook, NASA CIO Blog
GAO Report Warns of Vulnerabilities in NASA's Networks, House Science and Technology Committee
"Although NASA has made important progress in implementing security controls and aspects of its information security program, it has not always implemented appropriate controls to sufficiently protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the information and systems supporting its mission directorates. Specifically, NASA did not consistently implement effective controls to prevent, limit, and detect unauthorized access to its networks and systems."
"General Note - Web sites shall be reviewed yearly for public web sites and every three years for all other web sites by the RNO for the web site. This review shall be reflected by renewal of web site registrations in AWRS. Policy and content reviews shall be performed yearly for public web sites and every three years for all other web sites by Center subject matter experts tracked by AWRS as required by the Agency and LaRC Office of Chief Information Officer (OCIO). Any violations of these policies and content restrictions constitute grounds for removal of the web site from the LaRC Network. The RNO for web sites that do not meet established guidelines will be contacted and informed of necessary changes. Failure to incorporate required changes within 30 days will necessitate removal from the LaRC Network."
Keith's note: Typical NASA: come up with a convoluted multi-step process to develop websites - one that requires many people to complete and approve, tolerates long lag times for compliance, and then allows the websites to sit for years before anyone is required to check to see if they still work.
"An Army order directs network managers across the country to stop blocking soldiers' access to certain Web 2.0 Web sites such as Facebook, Flickr and Twitter, according to several media reports today. The order issued May 18 jointly by the 93rd and 106th Signal Brigades, permits access to five social media sites within the continental U.S, said Stephen Bullock, strategic communication director for 7th Signal Command, which oversees the brigades. Bullock said the order "wasn't really a reversal of policy," as much as an effort to address inconsistent and often arbitrary decisions that had been made from base to base. "So we gave guidance that made it a consistent set of web filtering standards, resulting in better service for our users," he said. Access should be available to Facebook: Delicious, Flickr, Twitter and Vimeo via the Unclassified but Sensitive Internet Protocol Router Network, he said."
"Reply to Attn of : DA-09-010
TO: All MOD Personnel
FROM: DA/Director, Mission Operations
SUBJECT: Policy on Use of Social Media
The following is MOD policy for use of "social media" (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, etc.). This policy is consistent with JSC Announcement 08-032 and NASA Policy Directive (NPD) 2540.1F "Policy on Personal Use of Government Office Equipment Including Information Technology."
This policy applies to all MOD employees: NASA, NASA contractor, and subcontractor personnel who are authorized by contract to use Government office equipment.
NASA employees and contractors are permitted limited use of Government office equipment for personal needs if the use does not interfere with official business and involves only minimal additional expense to the Government. Personal use means uses other than for official Government business. Some personal use is considered inappropriate. Specific provisions regarding personal use and activities particularly considered inappropriate are identified in NPD 2540.1F*. More specifically, section e, paragraph 10, defines "Inappropriate Personal Uses" to include: "Use for posting Agency information to external newsgroups, bulletin boards, or other public forums without authority."
To be compliant, MOD will enforce a policy of not permitting the posting to "social" sites of mission operations information that has not been released by the Public Affairs Office (PAO). This includes, but is not limited to, realtime information. PAO is responsible for posting such information.
Original Signed by:
Paul S. Hill"
* (10) Use for posting Agency information to external newsgroups, bulletin boards, or other public forums without authority. This includes any use that could create the perception that the communication was made in one's official capacity as a Federal Government employee or uses at odds with NASA's mission or positions. Inappropriate use also includes participating in Chat Rooms, News Groups, or other similar activities where the posting and NASA internet address will be seen by the public. Adding a disclosure statement that the views expressed do not represent those of the Agency is not an acceptable alternative.
Keith's note: Wow. So ... MOD can pre-emptively make decisions that JSC (and NASA) PAO should be making. How dysfunctional. This is certainly in overt conflict with what the White House wants all Federal agencies to be doing so as to be "transparent" and "open". Stay tuned.
SUMMARY: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing a public meeting to solicit recommendations from interested persons on ways in which FDA can make useful and understandable information about FDA activities and decisionmaking more readily available to the public. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information to the public about government activities and initiatives. For FDA, providing information to the public in a timely, user-friendly manner is important to enhance the work of the agency."
Government transparency and accountability is a priority for the Obama Administration. On January 21, 2009, President Obama issued two memoranda to the heads of executive departments and agencies regarding openness in government. In the memorandum on Transparency and Open Government (``Transparency and Open Government memorandum''), the Administration has pledged to take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information to the public rapidly, and in a form that is easily accessible and user friendly. Executive departments and agencies have been charged with harnessing new technologies to make information about agency operations and decisions available online and readily available to the public. Further, executive departments and agencies have been instructed to solicit public input to identify information of greatest use to the public."
Keith's note: NASA is going to have to comply with this Administration directive at some point. The complete FDA Notice is below. How much of the FDA approach could be repurposed for use by NASA? What additional things would be needed? Thoughts?
"NASA, which has tiptoed into the new world of social media with Twittering astronauts and Facebooking rovers, is taking the next step with an invitation-only outreach to "the twedia" to cover a space shuttle launch. There are so many details to work out that the so-called TweetUp, originally planned for next week's launch of space shuttle Endeavour, has been rescheduled for the August flight of shuttle Discovery, said Michael Cabbage, a spokesman for the U.S. space agency."
"This proposed procurement is a continuation of an existing contractual agreement for the developed prototype NASA Student Ambassadors Virtual Community (NSAVC) web site. ... NASA HQs intends to issue a Sole Source Procurement to the Omni Media Cast Technologies, LLC to continue performance for the NASA Student Ambassadors Virtual Community web communication tool. ... Interested organizations may submit their capabilities and qualifications to perform the effort in writing, by FAX or E-Mail, to the identified point of contact not later than 11:00 a.m. (EST.) on April 1, 2009. Such capabilities/qualifications will be evaluated solely for the purpose of determining whether or not to conduct this procurement on a competitive basis. A determination by the Government not to compete this proposed effort on a full and open competition basis, based upon responses to this notice, is solely within the discretion of the government."
Editor's note: Wow. One full week to determine "whether or not to conduct this procurement on a competitive basis." That is not exactly expending much in the way of effort to conduct a meaningful evaluation. NASA clearly wants to sole source this and not waste any time, it would seem. Also, how can other interested organizations even provide a credible response when this virtual community is not even available for their inspection? Neither are any requirements for the operation of this "virtual community" provided. Curious.
NASA Solicitation: Student Ambassadors Program STEM, earlier post
"Glasgow-born Gary McKinnon, 42, who last month lost his appeal against extradition, could face life in jail if convicted of accessing 97 computers. His lawyer Karen Todner said his human rights would be breached if he did not return to the UK after a trial."
UFO hacker is broken man, says family, The Scotsman
"McKinnon, an unemployed systems analyst from north London, admits accessing 97 US military and Pentagon computers, but claimed he was looking for UFO files. The US government accuses him of stealing passwords and deleting files. McKinnon faces up to 70 years in prison if he is found guilty."
Editor's note: I am not certain why this guy is worried. If he is found guilty of attacking American government computers, his alien lawyers can just beam him out of the courtroom up to the Mothership - which the Shuttle will soon be unable to reach. He'll be at home anyway - since it seems that all of the aliens I see on TV have British accents.
"Although we could not specifically validate the authors' level of awareness, none of the four Centers had active programs designed to educate new employees or to periodically brief existing employees about the STI review requirement. The effectiveness of NASA's STI review process could be improved if STI authors are timely notified of the results of the STI review and if NASA took steps to ensure STI authors are aware of their responsibilities under NPR 2200.2B. Those actions would remove uncertainty from the process and further reduce NASA's risk of inappropriately releasing restricted or sensitive STI."
"On Wednesday, July 23, NASA will host an Industry Day to discuss upcoming agency-wide acquisitions for the Information Technology (IT) Infrastructure Improvement Program, or I3P. The program strategically will procure information technology infrastructure services for NASA."
"NASA will NOT conduct an open Question and Answer session as a part of this meeting."
"What better way to reach a multi-tasking, short-attention-spanned Gen Y'er than to limit your messages to 140 characters? I think my favorite NASA Baby Boomer reaction to Twitter (a micro blogging tool that lets you send 140 characters to subscriber's Instant Messaging programs or cell phones) is, "Well, there is a technology that solves a problem I don't have."
Editor's note: Yawn, yet another example of someone parsing new Internet capabilities (such as Twitter) into false dichotomiesas belonging to either Gen Y or Baby Boomers. This is getting old. Look at the most popular Twitter feeds. I can see a large number of authors/topics whose feeds are most certainly NOT being authored by someone from Gen Y. Can't we all just get along and use these tools without applying an inaccurate litmus test?
"Employers seeking to decrease interruptions may want to have their workers use instant messaging software, a new study suggests. A recent study by researchers at Ohio State University and University of California, Irvine found that workers who used instant messaging on the job reported less interruption than colleagues who did not."
"A spokeswoman for the Phoenix Mars Lander mission says a hacker took over the mission's public website during the night and changed its lead news story. Spokeswoman Sara Hammond says a mission update posted Friday was replaced with a hacker's signature and a link redirecting visitors to an overseas website."
"Regardless of the aforementioned Space Act standards, we otherwise found that the Agency mismanaged this activity insomuch as it occurred over a sustained period of time until senior management was eventually alerted by congressional staff and the media. That senior management did not know before then was emblematic of ineffective internal management controls such as a dispute resolution mechanism between contributing scientists and public affairs officials. This is especially true in that relations between NASA's climate change science community and the NASA Headquarters Office of Public Affairs had somehow deteriorated into acrimony, non-transparency, and fear that science was being politicized--attributes that are wholly inconsistent with effective and efficient Government. The investigation also uncovered that one of the underlying contributing factors of these problems may have, in fact, been in the very structure of the NASA Headquarters Office of Public Affairs, where political appointees were placed in the seemingly contradictory position of ensuring the "widest practicable" dissemination of NASA research results that were arguably inconsistent with the Administration's policies, such as the "Vision for Space Exploration."
Editor's 31 May 11 pm EDT update: The MarsPhoenix Twitter feed now has 11,667 followers whereas the Twitter feeds for Twitter's Co-founder Biz Stone only has 11,178, Stephen Colbert has 10,593 followers, and Gen Y techie favorite Wil Wheaton (Star Trek actor) has 11,270 followers.
Editor's 1 June 12 am EDT update: One hour later and there are now 12,119 followers. That's nearly a 5% increase in just one hour.
Editor's 1 June 12 pm EDT update: Now up to 13,970 followers. Twitterholic now ranks it at 20th most popular.
Editor's 2 June 12 am EDT update: Now up to 15,038 followers. While the Twitterholic ranking has not been updated, this number of followers would rank it at around 14. At this growth rate MarsPhoenix will break into the top ten in a matter of days - and all of the great science news has just started to arrive.
Editor's 2 June 12 pm EDT update: Its now up to 15,626 followers. Twitterholic shows it ranked as the 14th most popular Twitter feed. Next big hurdle: passing CNN Breaking News (cnnbrk) with 20,330 followers.
Earlier posts below
NASA Space Missions Fuel Massive Storage Projects, Byte and Switch
"Earlier this month, NASA revealed that it will deploy a 20,480-core Altix ICE supercomputer from SGI at its Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley this summer. Capable of 245 trillion operations per second (Teraflops), the supercomputer will support future NASA projects, chiefly manned missions to the moon and potentially to Mars."
"Open source is such a natural for government agencies, it should come as no surprise that NASA is now developing an open-source project called CosmosCode. The goal? "To provide a common access point for individuals, academics, companies, and space agencies around the world using, contributing to, or supporting re-usable, modular, extensible, or standards driven space exploration software."
"I am excited about the future and I enjoy talking about what we are doing and where we are going with the Nation's space program. What resonates with the general public the most is the combination of the inspiration from our space exploration missions with the examples of how NASA-derived technologies are critical for life here on Earth.
After my keynote in San Jose, several individuals said my speech was "powerful" and that is such a compliment because now they "get" it and are re-energized in their interest in America's space program. As my staff says, the speeches I give are getting better. I am an introvert by nature and I have stepped way out of my comfort zone, but I feel it is extremely important to discuss the importance of NASA to the general public."
"A NASA employee has been suspended for soliciting donations and writing politically partisan blog posts and sending e-mail messages while at work, violations of the Hatch Act."
Editor's note: I got a Twitter note an hour or so ago from email@example.com: "reference to nasawatch at the all-hands - how folks use that more than insidenasa." Interesting. I am curious to see how the new
inside-the-firewall NASAsphere system works. Does anyone have a screen grab they can send me of NASAsphere that they can share? This is what InsideNASA looks like today.
Editor's update: this is a screen grab from NASAsphere. I have learned that this is not a permanent NASA feature - at least not yet. It is undergoing an evaluation period for the next month or so. At that point a decision will be made whether to go ahead - and what software platform to use.
"JPL has an inventory of about 19,000 computers, ranging from Windows and Macintosh desktops, to 1,000 node compute clusters. Of these 19,000 computers, about 5,600 are computer servers performing a wide variety of computing tasks. The space requirements of this diverse server population are exceeding JPL's capacity, and plans to add many new computing capabilities over the next few years means that the Lab needs to consolidate its computing footprint both through hardware consolidation, as well as the use of virtualization tools."
"This week at the Operations Management Council (OMC) meeting, a significant portion was dedicated to the work we are doing to improve information technology (IT). In 2007, the Strategic Management Council, approved strategic initiatives to:
1) clarify the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) as stated in NPD 1000.3 and define core IT services that shall be provided by the CIO;
2) realign the NASA IT organization to reflect the role of the CIO and better connect with customers;
"Tuesday May 6, 2008 - 9:10 AM Central
NOMAD Status: WELLCOME TO THE NEW NASA WEBMAIL WARNING!!!!!
If you get an e-mail with "WELLCOME TO THE NEW NASA WEBMAIL" in the subject line, DO NOT provide the information this e-mail is asking for. This is a bogus e-mail that needs to be deleted and ignored. We are working to block this e-mail from NOMAD customers."
Editor's note: Hmmm - this is from NOMAD after all. How do we know that this alert is not fake and that the original message is actually legit? Isn't NOMAD supposed to prevent this from happening in the first place - or did NOMAD cause it to happen? Yes I am being silly. I just can't shake the 40 year old mental image of the "NOMAD" robot from Star Trek and the voice that it used every time I read a NOMAD Update. Perhaps someone could forward the offending email text to me?
"The CORE Security Team released an advisory to the Full-Disclosure mailing list today that documented a stack overflow in NASA's Common Data Format libs. Looking at this bug, the tech details aren't overwhelming, I think I'm mostly excited about it due to the high profile of hacking NASA libs. One can hardly fault NASA though, I mean, our government can't even get them enough money to do some real space exploration, it's hard to fault them for missing some security issues."
"The libraries for the scientific data file format, Common Data Format (CDF) version 3.2 and earlier, have the potential for a buffer overflow vulnerability when reading specially-crafted (invalid) CDF files. If successful, this could trigger execution of arbitrary code within the context of the CDF-reading program that could be exploited to compromise a system, or otherwise crash the program. While it's unlikely that you would open CDFs from untrusted sources, we recommend everyone upgrade to the latest CDF libraries on their systems, including the IDL and Matlab plugins. Most worrisome is any service that enables the general public to submit CDF files for processing."
Reader note: "Mr. Cowing, A couple of things regarding the Gen Y pitch you posted on NASAWatch on 4/25/08, just for the heck of it.
First, I found this item "Why Generation Y is broke" linked on InstaPundit earlier today - you may find it interesting if you haven't already read it.
Second, something in the above item made me think about the real message of that Gen Y NASA pitch, so I re-read that pitch. My conclusion - Gen Y is all about Gen Y, even the NASA Gen Y folks. Except for one bullet, the first sub-bullet on Page 20 (by Adobe Reader's count - don't they teach Gen Y folks about page numbers, especially on LONG presentations?), the thrust of the entire presentation seems to be: What can you old farts do for us? [ Editor's note: Editor's note: This is my fault - I converted this presentation to pdf from Powerpoint]
NASA: How CoWorking Opened Us Up, PSFK Conference
"In this out-take from PSFK Conference New York, Andrew Hoppin talks about the moment when NASA decided that they needed to open up and collaborate more with their partners and the community in Silicon Valley, they were faced with the challenges of 'home-land' security and red-tape."
"We're asking to create an environment where all NASA employees can leverage their strengths to push the limits of science and space exploration by:
- Providing the current NASA workforce with infusion of fresh ideas, methodologies and technologies.
- Providing the Next Gen NASA workforce the programs and experience today that it needs to be the leaders in the future.
- Enabling enhanced communication and collaboration between NASA centers.
- Getting more young people in the door."
DCS01-OFFICE OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS/ROSALIE ALLEN
TITLE: ARES YOUTUBE CHANNEL
NOTE BODY: The Office of Strategic Analysis and Communications Ares integration team created a YouTube ID for Ares video content and researched technical specifications and procedures for uploading video content to YouTube. This is part of an outreach into new media to engage the interest of Generation Y in NASA's work.
Editor's note: They certainly can make something that just about any kid in grammar school can do these days (i.e. "click to upload") sound very formalistic and technical. Ah, NASA.
"Tuesday, April 1, 2008 - 9:30 AM Central - Goodlink Outage (March 25-27, 2008) At this time a root cause for the issue that caused the outage is undetermined. The NOMAD Team is waiting for additional information from Good that will hopefully pinpoint the root cause. The team did several things to correct the issue but it is undetermined which action or the combination of actions corrected the problem.- deleted corrupted cache files, moved the Good admin account to another server, deleted old mapi profile."
Reader note: "I haven't seen much coverage of NASA's NOMAD (email/exchange server) implementation bringing ALL of NASA into one centralized email system.
Some effects have been to have messages sent from the NASA Administrator classified as spam. It has also caused very large volumes of email (hundreds of thousands of non-spam messages) from non-NOMAD servers be delayed for hours on many separate occasions.
Recently, GSFC center director Ed Weiler sent a broadcast message to ALL GSFC employees about a sudden all-hands meeting concerning his move back to NASA HQ. This message was received after the event by most NOMAD integrated staff, while those few not yet migrated into the new system received the email within seconds. Only those staff who were telephoned about the meeting were able to attend.
In effect, this has caused huge numbers of NASA employees and contractors to use gmail or some outside email service as their reliable form of communication. In addition what used to be relatively free is now costs about $25/month/user to fund only 200 Mb of email storage space. A huge step down not counting the reliability issues."
Comments? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org Your comments thus far:
Editor's note: The following is from a NASA Watch reader in regard to the recent GEN Y posting. Personally, I belive that this person's attitude is an example of why many parts of the NASA family are becoming further isolated from the real world - as opposed to becoming more closely aligned to it. My biases aside, this person's comments do represent a viewpoint prevalent at NASA - and that viewpoint needs to be heard. Other reader comments follow. Send yours to email@example.com.
"Keith: Just wanted to provide some feedback to you as a NASAWatch reader and contractor out of Houston regarding the stories about the "Gen-Y" presentation.
Although I did not attend the NGAC at Ames, I was invited and my civil servant "counterpart" did attend. I have read the Gen-Y presentation and reviewed your articles.
Personally, I find the entire "Gen-Y" discussion quite pathetic. This is one of those times where I wish I was *not* part of the group, as I really do not think there was much substance to the presentation. I've seen better presentations in powerpoint from children in middle school. Truly, as someone born in 1980, I wish I was born a little earlier so I could be "Gen-X" rather than Y.
"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has enjoyed a long-standing, successful relationship with Entrust, Inc. . Now, that partnership grows even stronger as NASA deploys Entrust solutions to unify their security strategy across all sites and field offices in support of its "One NASA" and HSPD-12 initiatives."
Editor's note: When I go to http://www.onenasa.gov/, I find that no such website exists. Yet if I go to http://onenasa.com/ it exists, but a password is needed to enter. OneNASA.com is owned by website development firm named ninthdegree.com. If I use the Nasa.gov search engine no URL with "OneNASA" appears in the search results. So, does this "OneNASA" entity actually exist? if so, what does it do?
Editor's update: I guess some folks haven't gotten the message yet: OneNASA is dead. According to this 15 December 2006 Internal memo titled "One NASA - Success and Transition" from Mike Griffin: "With this critical success the One NASA initiative has completed the last major milestone in its intial objectives. Furthermore, the Agency has recognized the value of the One NASA approach and has successfully integrated that approach into its formal organizations. Now, it is time to use the existing institutions more, rather than compensating for them; therefore, One NASA is being discontinued as an official NASA intitiative."
"The site, introduced over the weekend, has new blogs and widgets and more ways for people to view and manipulate content. A MyNASA feature has a "top playlist" that lets people watch clips of the space shuttle Discovery's return to Florida or the California wildfires viewed from orbit."
"NASA.gov got a face lift over the weekend. It went from black text in gray boxes, to glowing blue icons, roll-over sliding windows, and an elegant nebula backdrop. The update, the first major renovation since 2003, is designed to reach out to the 18-25 demographic (that has been the hardest for NASA to engage) and to appeal to the tech-savvy visitor."
Editor's note: So - what do you think of the redesigned NASA.gov? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org Your replies thus far:
"You are invited to preview the redesigned Web site www.nasa.gov, scheduled to go live Nov. 30. To access the new design, nasa.gov 5.0, visit: http://staging1.cms.nasa.gov/templates/home.html More than a graphic facelift, nasa.gov 5.0 will offer users a new level of interactivity: the opportunity to comment on selected agency stories, for example, or to create a personal play list of favorite NASA videos, or to share NASA content with others via social book marking sites such as Digg and del.icio.us. ..."
"Of key interest are the plans for the first annual NASA Science Web Federation Workshop November 13th-16th, 2007, at Ames Research Center. The intent is for this workshop to focus on NASA application of web technology. You may want to participate as an observer or share your solution to a particular challenge."
"NASA has suffered from a public credibility crisis in recent years due to perceived incompetence, a failed mission to Mars, the damaged and dormant Hubble telescope, and its inability to procure a long enough USB cable to reach all the way over to engineer William Chen's cubicle. But NASA officials argue that a secure high-speed line could prevent disasters such as a 2005 incident in which an employee attempting to download the movie trailer for Cheaper by the Dozen 2 crashed the Mission Control Center mainframe computer for two weeks."
"Effective Sept. 28, 2007, the Outreach Resource Center (ORC) in Bdg. 1213, Rm. 139, was permanently closed. Due to budget constraints, the ORC is no longer available for walk-in customers or requests for hard-copy public information materials."
"Come see some of NASA Langley's latest breakthroughs for yourself Saturday, October 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Help stimulate your child's imagination with a look at real-life space-age discoveries that may one day be part of everyday life. Enjoy a rare opportunity to step back in time and view where astronauts learned to land on the moon."
Editor's note: This sends a confusing message. On one hand LaRC opens itself up to the public - on the other hand it closes itself off from them.
"This memorandum supersedes my August 1, 2007, memorandum to OICs and Center Directors. Its purpose is to clarify intent and provide guidance on how this messaging material might be used to the best advantage of the Agency.
First, the original guidance was intended to provide some consistency on how we talk about NASA's work with the public. It is not a mandate and should not have been prescriptive.
Second, the Core Message (NASA explores for answers that power our future) is not a slogan or tag line. You are not required to use it, but feel free to include it if you deem it appropriate and helpful for your communications needs.
Third, the Graphic Element (Inspiration+Innovation+Discovery=Future) is a formula for those key themes that illustrate and enhance the Core Message. It should NOT be used as a graphic in Agency materials; however, the three themes can serve as a guide for Agency messaging.
Internal NASA Memo from Robert Hopkins, Chief, Office of Strategic Communications: NASA Messages, earlier post from 1 August 2007
Outsourcing Desktop Initiative for NASA (ODIN) Mission Focus Review (MFR) Decisions, NASA Ames Office of the Chief Information Officer (840K PDF)
"The agency Strategic Management Council (SMC) has approved two Mission Focus Reviews (MFR)s related to ODIN. The SMC decision includes:
- MFR#7 - Consolidate all cellular services (pagers, cell phones, smartphones/PDAs, and cellular Internet) under ODIN
- MFR#137 - Consolidate all laptop/desktop/workstation procurement and support under ODIN"
"NASA astronauts "twittering" from the moon? It's not such a far-fetched idea, considering the space agency's current push to partner with Web 2.0 companies like Twitter and save itself from turning into a dinosaur in the Internet age. Some executives at the struggling NASA believe that if the agency can adopt Web technologies like Twitter--a social network for broadcasting thoughts online or via text message--then kids and the general public will be more connected to space exploration and inspired to learn about science."
"I was in Colorado and Arizona on June 17-20. I will write more about my meetings there in my next entry. I have been traveling quite a bit in the past few months and there is no sense that it will slow down any time soon. I think these trips are necessary, talking to people outside the beltway to see what their thoughts are about NASA and exploration. But the main purpose has been to focus on fiscal year (FY) 2008 appropriations for NASA."
NASA Deputy Administrator's Blog Jun 15, 2007 - Shana Dale
"I am looking for a more direct way to communicate with people inside the agency. There is so much that goes on at headquarters and I want to be able to pull the curtain back on at least some of it and also explain what is going on with new initiatives. I anticipate updating the blog every week - I know, not as routine as many but it's hard even to find time to eat lunch."
Today's Ask the Administrator Answer, previous post
[Mike Griffin] "Finally, no, I do not read NASAWatch, or any other blog."
Editor's note: Gee Mike, you won't even read your own Deputy's blog?
"According to OSTP, it does not conduct scientific research on its own nor does it formulate or directly oversee the development of dissemination policies or decisions at individual agencies. However, OSTP has publicly affirmed the value of science as a basis for federal action and recognizes the importance of timely, complete, and accurate communication of scientific information. The OSTP Director has on several occasions asked the leaders and chief scientists of federal agencies to develop, revise, or reemphasize their dissemination policies and to ensure that agency employees and managers understand their rights and obligations under these policies. The director has cited NASA's media policy as a model for other agencies to consider in developing their own dissemination policies."
Editor's note: Once again, it seems that NASA HQ and JSC PAO just cannot agree on whose version of a routine ISS status report gets released. Solution: they release both. Why the fuss? Well, JPL PAO complains that it cannot afford to give their employees cell phones with email capability (most kids walking home from Junior High have that) and other PAO organizations complain about looming budget cuts to other vital functions. Yet instead of trying to make their organization more efficient, PAO manages to find ways to make it less efficient. The following two versions of the 18 May 2007 ISS status report were issued within minutes of each other. The first one went out from JSC at 4:09:21 PM EDT. The NASA HQ version went out at 4:56:10 PM EDT.
Editor's note: I just learned that JPL PAO media reps do not have the ability to get email 24/7. According to a JPL PAO source, JPL simply "does not have the money to provide Blackberry's to their staff". First of all, please tell me just how much that would cost for the PR employees of an arm of NASA (albeit a contractor), all of whom use nasa.gov email addresses, whose parent organization manages a substantial portion of NASA's space missions. What happens if news breaks (and it does) after business hours? Secondly: Earth to JPL: it is now possible to get email on Treos and handheld devices other than Blackberry's - even really cheap phones. Call Rent-A-Geek and they will set it up for you. Thirdly: for an entity whose amazing people can reach across billions of miles to reprogram 30 year old spacecraft now travelling outside our solar system, this has just got to be plain embarassing. You guys want to help build the Interplanetary Internet - and your PAO staff shuts off email after hours?
Reader note: "Please do not post my name or email address, as JPL still shoots messengers. The JPL PAO excuse does not ring true. Virtually all JPL managers have, or have access to either Blackberries or Treos. The Treos seem to be more prevalent. Probably due to pricing. FWIW, almost everyone on my team has a Treo, and we are just worker bees. Also FWIW, it's inconvenient as hell to have a cell phone with a built in camera when you frequent places where cameras aren't allowed."
Reader note (a veteran space journalist): "Some PAO at several NASA centers have the addictive blackberries. I'd say JPL PAO doesn't want them. They are, by far, rank lowest in returning phone calls and setting up interviews of any PAO shop I've dealt with across NASA or DOD or even private industry. NASA HQ comes in second, but I believe JPL PAO people think if they just ignore it, then it will go away. So, if they are "reachable" 24/7 (or more than they are now) then it will probably just go away."
Editor's note: Have a look at the Winds website at NASA JPL. In the lower center of the page there is a link to "Lampson Concerned About Survival Of Vital Hurricane Tracking Satellite". Apparently (and I am giving them the benefit of the doubt here) the webmaster was unaware that his not an original "article", but rather, it is a press release from Rep. Lampson's office - someone who has been critical of the Bush Administration's space policies. If you go to this link there is nothing to note that it is indeed a press release, rather, it says what it was written by "staff writers". The full press release - labeled as such - can be found here at SpaceRef.com. Lampson's office has not put the press release online yet. I have asked JPL PAO and the responsible officials for this website what their policy is with regard to linking to external news sources and political press releases, but they have not responded. Indeed, they have updated this page since I initially sent my request. One would think that NASA's Office of Legislative Affairs would have some say in matters such as this.
Editor's update: The website has been modified and JPL PAO says that indeed they were not aware that they were linking to a press release. Yet, the phrase "Lampson Concerned About Survival Of Vital Hurricane Tracking Satellite" now points to this LA Times article - one that makes no mention whatsoever of Rep. Lampson (D- TX) but mentions the comments of Ron Klein (D-FL) instead.
Editor's further update: The link is now gone altogether.
"Members discussed the need to know what audiences feel about NASA's relevance to their lives. Ames Center Director Pete Worden suggested that to communicate with younger audiences, the Agency needs to better use the internet and new communications technologies. Chief of Strategic Communications Sterner told members about plans to form cells in the mission directorates that will be responsible to incorporate Agency messages into the communications efforts undertaken as part of mission activities. The goal is to "get everybody on the same page." Sterner encouraged leaders to talk to their staff members who have responsibility for communications."
"In interviews, McKinnon has admitted the hacking spree (though not the damage), which he says was a search for evidence of a military UFO cover-up. McKinnon, his lawyers and fans have portrayed him as a victim of overreaching U.S. prosecutors. They've all but claimed he's going to wind up with a pointy hood over his head."
"Gary McKinnon, 41, yesterday lost his appeal against extradition to stand trial in the US on charges connected with hacking into the Pentagon and Nasa systems. He is accused of stealing computer files, intentionally causing damage to a protected computer, obtaining secrets which might have been "useful to an enemy" and interfering with maritime navigation equipment. He was initially arrested in 2002."
Free Gary McKinnon, UK website for those who think this is so unfair and that this guy is heading for Guantanamo Bay.
Editor's note: Silly Brits: everyone here knows that we send UFO exposers to Area 51 where memory sucking devices reverse engineered from alien technology reformat people's brains.
NASA is shirking its educational duties, union says, Government Executive
"But Keith Cowing, editor of NASAWatch.com and a former NASA scientist, said cuts have prevented the agency from fulfilling its innovative outreach goals. "Everybody expects every agency to be hip and with it," but that takes time and money, he said. "The real problem is when they try" to meet these expectations, "Congress cuts their budget." "To their credit, [some officials] are actually getting hip to this," Cowing said. He pointed to NASA's Ames Center, where the agency is sharing computer scientists and office space with Silicon Valley neighbor Google."
NASA Budgets $3m to Develop MMO and More, 3pointD.com
"NASA, the U.S. space agency, is getting ready to launch its own exploration into virtual space. NASAs Learning Technologies arm has issued an intramural call for proposal ideas [UPDATE: now postponed, oddly] for the development of a massively multiplayer online game that is intended to be the front-end of a larger synthetic environment."
Editor's note: NASA has turned off all of its KSC webcams again. This is odd since you'd think that people would like to see damaage (or lack thereof) happens - in real time. Webservers and webcams normally run fine with little adjustment - so why not just leave them running?. Of course NASA could also look into installing some remote satellite webcams too. Again, they are not that difficult to set up and cost perhaps less than $10K per camera. Not much to spend when billions of dollars of assets are involved.
Indeed, these two webcams [1, 2] operate autonomously on Devon Island less than 800 miles from the north pole - and conditions there can get rather nasty - for months at a time. Its odd that NASA hasn't set anything like this up. It sure ain't rocket science.
What is even stranger is the fact that KSC's website has been shut down too. Now this is odd. Indeed, it is just plain dumb as well as unimaginative. I guess the notion of offsite hosting or mirror sites (on webservers outside of Florida) has never occurred to anyone at KSC. There are people at NASA who could keep an eye on things for a few days. So much for being able to post updates that KSC people who still have power - or have cellphones - can read. I have to wonder sometimes if NASA hires IT personnel who have ever worked in the real world. You'd think after all of these hurricanes someone might have learned a few lessons.
Editor's 30 Aug 9:00 am EDT note: KSC's website is (apparently) operational again - but the webcams are not.
Reader note: "Regarding webcams being turned off... My daughter is a senior at Florida Institute of Technology (Florida Tech) down the road in Melbourne. Their webcam is running as normal. Maybe KSC needs some FIT students to show them how to do it?"
Editor's note: Some Cocoa Beach area webcams (still online) which apparently use more advanced technology than NASA has:
"In his new position, McManus will ensure that the agency's information resource management strategy is in alignment with NASA's vision, mission and strategic goals. In addition, he will focus on the development of integrated information resource management strategies, including standards, policies, the NASA Enterprise Architecture, IT security, management and operations."
Editor's note: Gee, I wonder if HQ will give McManus control over Field Center CIO budgets such that he can fix things once and for all?
Editor's note: Go to NASA SOMD's Human Spaceflight home page. Do you see links to the VSE, ESMD or anything connected to NASA's exploration efforts on that main entry point? Go the news page and you will see a similar lack of information on exploration. Now go to NASA's Exploration home page. There are no links to NASA SOMD's Human Spaceflight page - yet SOMD and ESMD are supposed to be working together to transition from current to future space systems. Oh yes - I don't see any links between ESMD's page and SMD's home page either - yet they are supposed to be developing hardware and science hand in hand. Indeed ESMD has created their own versions of pages that SOMD's website already has online.
I find this continued stove piping and duplication of effort in terms of education and outreach, web design, etc. to be rather odd. Yet Mike Griffin tells everyone that exploration is what NASA is about and that SOMD, ESMD, and SMD are one big happy family. Alas, they can't even bother to link to each other's home pages. What does this say about how they really get along? This is just silly folks.
"I am pleased to announce that the Office of the Center Director has created a blog. The purpose is to have a new and (we hope) effective tool for communication at the Center. The Deputy Director, the Associate Director for Institutions and Research, and I will use the blog to periodically convey information and to share important developments affecting the Center with you all. The "Ask the Director" link will also be available via this site."
Editor's note: What a fascinating idea ....
NASA's chief information officer and chief of Strategic Communications have outlined new policy governing all NASA public Web sites. This policy directs all NASA officials who are planning to publish new Web sites or create public content to host these sites and create and maintain their content within the NASA Portal infrastructure.
NASA bungles e-mail policy, Federal Computing Week
"NASA officials said the original e-mail's wording gave the wrong impression. "Unfortunately, we should have explicitly said that, by all means, people should continue to answer e-mails within their areas of expertise, but we did not," Dunbar said. "It was never anyone's intention to muzzle anybody or restrict information from going out to the public."
Editor's note: It has been nearly a month. Has NASA clarified this issue - by memo - to all of its employees? No.
NASA Management Seeks to Muzzle Its Employees, NASA Watch
Editor's note: After nearly a decade of being available online, NASA HQ's web paranoia has led to NASA Heads-up being restricted to NASA employee viewing only. Alas, we will no longer be able to know about blood drives, costume parties, and employee picnics any more. Here's an example of what was once available. This is really silly and echoes the way things were done in the Goldin era.
Editor's update: I have sent Griffin's new strategic communications guru, Joe Davis, a request for an explanation for this action. No reply received - yet.
"+Official NASA Public Portal Affinity Kit - Comprehensive and authoritative guide for creating sites that have affinity with the NASA Public Portal.
+NASA Public Portal Integration Plan - The proposed plan for integrating various NASA web sites with the Public Portal."
8 September 2004: NASA prepares BlackBerry backup, FCW
"With Florida facing the possibility of its third hurricane in a month, NASA is putting together a backup plan for its message system based on Research in Motion Ltd. BlackBerry devices. They are working on a workaround system for BlackBerry service," Melissa Mathews said. "It's like [instant messaging] but doesn't involve networks."
Editor's note: Excellent! At least someone at NASA knows how to use state of the art, well-established, real-world solutions - and to do so quickly, and without a lot of paperwork.
7 September 2004: Cape Canaveral: KSC employees told to report to work Monday unless otherwise contacted, Florida Today
"The Process Control Center had severe water damage after losing part of its roof. It's the hub of the e-mail and Web system for the shuttle launch complex, but because the computers were covered with plastic, the damage assessors think they probably were protected, KSC Director Jim Kennedy said."
Editor's note: Housing a webserver, email server - or any vital computer network hub in such a fragile location "covered with plastic" is just nuts. The fact that this facility is a few miles from the ocean, a few feet above sea level in a state prone to tropical storms and hurricanes makes me wonder just what the KSC folks were thinking - especially in a post 9/11 world.
I certainly hope NASA is going to catch up with the rest of the world and have secure, offsite mirror web facilities - such as those commonly used in the private sector. These armored, windowless facilities have uninterruptible back-up power, as well as server and connectivity redundancy. Fortunately, I understand that this storm has led to some definitive movement to fix this situation as NASA continues to develop its new web portal infrastructure.