Monthly Archives: June 2010

Space: @Astro_Wheels Point of View

Though many love to bash Twitter as meaningless chatter, I beg to differ. I think true character is revealed through a mere 140 characters — humor, anger, heart and soul. Meaningless chatter? Yes, that too. But I’m less inclined to follow a chatterhead…or TWatterhead, in Twitter-speak.

As an example of why Twitter matters, I want to introduce you to our new Twitternaut Doug Wheelock, better known as @Astro_Wheels to those of us in the Twittersphere. Doug just launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on June 15 with fellow NASA astronaut Shannon Walker and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin to join the rest of the Expedition 24 crew on the International Space Station. Doug will stay on Space Station as Expedition 25 Commander with the next crew change-out via Soyuz.

Note: Using the Soyuz spacecraft as our Space Station transport, we launch and land three crewmembers at a time. With six crew inhabiting our Station at any given time, each crewmember serves on two Expedition missions during their 5-6 month orbital assignment.

The Right StuffWith the ever popular @Astro_Soichi Noguchi leaving Station, we needed someone tweeting in space. Doug agreed. And I’m so glad he did. I’m thoroughly enjoying his point of view and feel he’s “The Right Stuff” for the job of communicating the amazing story of humanity’s journey to space and back.

Doug is a natural. He’s not only sharing pictures with us, but adding quite poignant commentary. We can share his journey together. Here is how it starts…and we’ve only just begun. He’ll be on orbit for the next five+ months.

Pre-flight

@Astro_Wheels Russian Sokol spacesuit. Astro_Wheels Expedition 24 Crewmates@Astro_Wheels posing next to Soyuz Hatch@Astro_Wheels takes Medal of Honor to orbit.@Astro_Wheels showing his Soyuz window seat.Soyuz spacecraft on the launchpadSoyuz spacecraft on the launch pad

On-Orbit

@Astro_Wheels Sunrise@Astro_Wheels Aurora@Astro_Wheels: Cyprus from Space Station@Astro_Wheels: Egypt from Space StationI’m really looking forward to learning more about astronaut Doug Wheelock through his 140 character tweets. I hope you’re following him. If you’re not, you should.

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Filed under astronaut, Earth, federal government, Gov 2.0, leadership, NASA, social media, space

Gov 2.0 Hero Day

In celebration of Gov 2.0 Hero Day, I want to highlight a few visionary ROCKet stars at NASA: Robbie Schingler, Nick Skytland, Chris Kemp, Astronaut Mike Massimino, Astronaut and Innovator Ron Garan, and Sean Herron.

Robbie SchinglerRobbie Schingler: Chief of Staff, Office of Technology at NASA Headquarters. I met Robbie a few years ago in a Communications workshop. He was working at Ames at the time. Robbie is a powerhouse for change. He is the catalyst for much of NASA’s most innovative Gov 2.0 incubator projects: CoLab, OpenNASA, 2007 Participatory Exploration Summit, OpenGov, LAUNCH:Water sustainability forum, and Random Hacks of Kindness. Robbie tirelessly works to insert collaborative processes that can bring about social justice. Twitter: @schingler

Nick SkytlandNick Skytland: Project Manager, Johnson Space Center. I first met Nick at the 2007 Participatory Exploration Summit that Space Operations Mission Directorate and Innovative Partnership Office sponsored out at Ames. Nick is another energetic creative visionary at NASA. He and Robbie have teamed together for multiple Gov 2.0 collaborative projects including CoLab, OpenNASA.com and Random Hacks of Kindness. Rumor has it that NASA astronauts consult Nick on how to use Twitter effectively — but you didn’t hear that from me. He’s the Powerpoint Communications King. With a few simple words and pictures, he makes clear how social media can change how we do business at NASA. For me, Nick’s main claim to fame was snagging the @NASA account back in 2007 and holding it until the agency was ready to adopt Twitter as a communications tool. Twitter: @skytland.

Chris Kemp and Steve WozniakChris Kemp, NASA Chief Technology Officer for IT at Ames. Indefatigable is the word that comes to mind for Chris. I met Chris at the same Communications workshop where I met Robbie. Chris is a whirlwind of change. Through Chris, our office collaborated with Microsoft to use it Photosynth as a tool to share our on-orbit mission images of the Space Station and Shuttle. He worked with Google to bring about Google Moon.He’s best known outside the agency as Mr. NASA Nebula for the cloud computing initiatives he’s championed. Twitter: @ChrisCKemp

I’m always on the lookout for game changers — ideas, technology, people.

Robbie, Nick and Chris are passionate, energetic change-agents. Through the last few years, these three guys really taught me a great deal about the endless possibilities for change that social media offers. We’re lucky to have them at NASA.

Astronaut Mike MassiminoAstronaut Mike Massimino: Mike agreed to try out Twitter as the first astronaut to take social media in space with him during the STS-125 Hubble Repair Mission. He paved the way for all the other astronauts and many NASA folks to follow. Because of his thoughtful, poetic and often humorous tweets, he became a celebrity practically overnight. He has three times the followers the @NASA account does. He’s a Gov 2.0 hero because he caught the vision of social media and expanded to YouTube segments about space with his Behind the Scenes series. Twitter: @Astro_Mike

Astronaut Ron GaranAstronaut Ron Garan: I met Ron through NASA’s LAUNCH:Water sustainability forum last March. Ron’s Manna Energy water filtration and carbon credit model was selected as one of the ten innovations to present to a group of 40 international thought leaders. What is amazing about Ron is his humility (remember that he’s an astronaut) and passion for making the world better for those who experience the inequities in access to food, water, and basic necessities of life. Through Manna Energy, Ron worked in Rwanda on his own time to bring clean water and sanitation to over 300 schools. Twitter: @MannaEnergy

“Since the Kyoto Protocol was established, only a very small percentage of the carbon market has benefited developing areas; with Africa seeing only 2.5%. We believe economic sustainability and large scale success can be born from an innovative development model that leverages the emerging global carbon credit market and integrates advances in renewable energy, water purification, and other renewable technologies into a comprehensive and compelling offering.” —Ron Garan, Director, Manna Energy Ltd.

But the story isn’t over. Ron is training for a six-month mission on Space Station beginning March 2011. He’ll launch on Soyuz from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Right now, he’s in Star City, Russia training for his mission. His training is conducted in Russian. Next he trains in Japan. Then back to the Johnson Space Center. He’s my Gov 2.0 hero because he has an amazing vision for a unique interactive social media presence during his training and space travel. He wants to share space — virtually, AND shine a spotlight back on Earth and the needs on our planet. We’re working on pulling together a really cool virtual space place where we can all gather to celebrate his life off-planet, and projects that make life better for those living on-planet. Stay tuned for more details in the near future. Twitter: @Astro_Ron

Astro_Ron in Sokol Spacesuit

Sean HerronSean Herron, Syracuse student and NASA intern. Sean worked with me in the Space Operations Mission Directorate and Robbie on Open Gov issues. Sean is someone to keep watch for in the future. He is fluent in social media and helped shape NASA’s Open Gov Plan with Robbie Schingler. He started a blog on the NASA People site to offer insights on his experiences at NASA. He was our voice on the LAUNCH:Water twitter account, and so much more. Sean gives me hope for our future. I hope he goes on to get his graduate degree then comes back to NASA for a long and fruitful career. Twitter: @SeanHerron

Yes, I notice that I’m only highlighting men. We have a number of game-changing women in leadership in the IT arena, but I don’t travel in their circles. I hope others will celebrate their Hero-ness today, as I celebrate these Gov 2.0 Guys.

Thank you Robbie, Nick, Chris, Mike, Ron and Sean for leading the way to NASA’s future in the Social Space Frontier!

Cross post on GovLoop.com.

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Filed under astronaut, federal government, leadership, NASA, OpenNASA, social media, space, water

Hashtag Pics Spark World Cup Obsession

It’s the little things, really, when you get right down to it. Little things like #hashtag-generated soccer balls and flags inside tweets. That’s all it takes to spark a World Cup obsession.

South Africa World Cup

All you brand guys out there: Learn a lesson from this!

I’m not a soccer fan. I admit it. I had my eye on the World Cup because of where it’s being held: South Africa. I’m a South Africa-holic after visiting there last summer with my mother and daughter.

The home of World Cup 2010 will be home to my daughter for the next year or more.

Reason enough for me to take interest, don’t you think? But my interest caught fire when I noticed the cute little soccer ball showing up on tweets after the hashtagged #WorldCup.  World Cup

I first noticed it after our NASA Earth Observing guys posted a twitpic of the World Cup stadium from space.

World Cup stadium from space. Credit: NASA

World Cup stadium from space. Credit: NASA

World Cup Joberg Stadium Tweet

SOOOOO cute. SOOOOOO fun. What a cute little World Cup soccer ball!!

World Cup #nasa tweet
A simple little picture of a soccer ball grabbed my attention enough that I came home and turned on ESPN to watch the World Cup overview. So unlike me. But my NASA world keeps colliding with my life. As I’m watching ESPN, they air an interview of Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson talking from Space Station about the World Cup.

World Cup Tweet

Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson on Space Station. Credit: NASA

Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson on Space Station. Credit: NASA

Ok, now I can’t help myself. I have to tweet about it. Next I notice little hashtag-generated flags for the countries of the teams playing in the World Cup. Oh I’m so totally addicted now!

World Cup Flag Tweet

Then I get busted by this tweet:

World Cup Busted Tweet@Bongobeardy was right…to a certain extent. But by this time, I actually had the World Cup South Africa vs. Mexico game on in the background at work. I could only find a Spanish channel carrying the game, which made the concept of the World Cup even more “worldly” with Spanish sports announcers giving play-by-play. Now, I’m following on the web.

World Cup Addiction Tweet

I’ve even found my new posterboy: heartthrob Danish Nicklas Bendtner. (To be honest, I looked up the Danish team because Mikkell Vestergaard of my previous post is heading down to the World Cup to watch the match.)

Nicklas Bendtner: Denmark

Nicklas Bendtner: Denmark. Credit: AFP

He SO looks like actor Clive Owen here.

I post this story as a testament to simple brand strategies with huge payoffs. Adorable little images inserted into tweets fueled several new passions for me. So easy. Very little effort. Ripple effects far-outreaching the initial idea, I imagine.

What I’d love to see? Little NASA logos hashtag-generated in tweets.

How cool would that be?!? I’d tweet even MORE (if that’s possible) just to see those cute little pics. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a space helmet for #astronaut, a rocket for #space, an Earth for….well, you get my drift.

Hey Twitter, you’re sitting on a gold mine in advertising — not that I want to pay for NASA logo pics. But still, I could see brand managers lining up to pay per click, etc. Just sayin’…..

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Filed under Africa, NASA, social media, space

Is Social Responsibility Innate or Nurtured?

I came from a business lunch today with a NASA colleague and Mikkel Vestergaard of Europe-based Vestergaard Frandsen, a unique company that manufactures disease-control textiles. I met Mikkel at our March LAUNCH: Water forum at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Mikkel served as one of our LAUNCH Council members.

Mikkel Vestergaard of Vestergaard Frandsen.

Mikkel Vestergaard

Quick back story for Mikkel. He comes from a textile-manufacturing family in Denmark. At 19, he sought adventure in Africa where he founded a trucking company. Political instability sent him packing back to the family business, but his experience ignited a passion for Africa. In a few years, he turned the company from uniform supplier to humanitarian relief products. Pretty amazing story. WIRED featured his story in April.

Passion Statement from the Vestergaard Frandsen website:

By innovating products and concepts focusing on preventable diseases like malaria, diarrhoea, HIV/AIDS and neglected tropical diseases, we turn our commitment into action. We innovate for the developing world, rather than developing products for wealthier regions, and then trying to adapt to those who actually need them the most.

Mikkel is in town participating in the Women Deliver conference. We were fortunate to catch him on the run between events. We’re busy planning our next LAUNCH sustainability event. Mikkel will be working with us to make it an even greater success than the LAUNCH: Water forum.

I write this today because I’m stirred by his commitment to make the world a better place by focusing his “profit for a purpose” business strategy toward the creation of innovative “life-saving products for the developing world.” He cares about people in need, and he’s poised his company to take swift action in partnership with government, non-profit and profit entities.

Zambian Village

Zambian Village

His heart for Africa touches close to our family. My aunt and uncle serve as missionaries in Zambia, and my youngest daughter, Steph, moves to South Africa in the next few weeks.

Mikkel asked how I feel about Steph’s decision. My answer, as always, “I’m thrilled.”

Steph will spend the next year (or more) working with the Bethany House Trust victim empowerment program.  Bethany House was established in 1998 to provide shelter, primary health services and education to young people in crisis. Steph, who just received her graduate degree in Community Counseling, will counsel kids who have untreated trauma. She specializes in Play Therapy.

Bethany House Trust

Bethany House Trust

So my question: Is social responsibility innate or nurtured?

What makes some of us comfortable with a cosy little routine that never changes? What makes some of us rush out in the world to make change happen?

I’m dying to be one of those out there changing the world. Life placed me here  at home helping others go out into the world. Some work with villagers out in the bush country. Some type on a computer in a government cubby hole. (Yeah, that second description would be my reality.) But, how cool for me to rub shoulders with a cool world-changer like Mikkel, and support my daughter as she reaches out to help those who can’t help themselves.

Bethany House: Toddler Living area.

Bethany House: Toddler Living area.

With our new LAUNCH sustainability forums, I get to help change the world from right here in DC. With our ten disruptive innovations, we hopefully throw a life-line to our planet. One small step…. Oh, I won’t even go there.

Whether or not the desire for social responsibility is born or grown, we should nurture it where we can. Feed it. Water it. Prune it. The needs are too great to be born by the few. Each of us can find small (or HUGE) ways to contribute. Be creative. Make it your own — like Mikkel did with his family’s business.

If you’re out there changing the world already, send me postcards (or twitpics). I’d love to travel along virtually. God speed!

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Filed under Africa, AIDs, Earth, environment, federal government, humanitarian aid, NASA