September 5, 2008 Vol. 1, Issue 8
The use of Twitter and other social technologies is spreading within the NASA community.
Want to know what’s new on Mars? Check out Mars Phoenix on Twitter, a social technology that allows users post short updates for friends who want to “follow” them. Phoenix is hardly alone among NASA missions that are using Twitter. LRO, LCROSS, STS-125, and GLAST are just a few examples of other NASA teams that are taking advantage of this opportunity to reach wider audiences.
“Twitter is a great way to communicate informally with many people, and lets followers know about the day-to-day work that goes on at NASA, something that doesn’t always end up reaching the public,” says Delia Santiago, Program Coordinator of NASA CoLab at Ames Research Center. “It helps people get a sense of how NASA works and what it takes to actually get to the impressive finished work.”
Twitter represents a new form of outreach that enables less formal and more personal communication than a press release. “The companies and organizations that have been most successful to date in their use of Twitter have been those who are willing to be more than just the organization, but the people who are inside those organizations, says Alison Byrne Fields, Senior Vice President and Social Media Strategy Director with DDB, a global advertising agency.
Members of the NASA community are also strengthening this sense of personal connection through other tools as blogs and social networks like Facebook. While blogs are nothing new, they are now part of NASA’s outreach through its website, which features blogs by Shana Dale, Deputy Administrator, and Wayne Hale, Deputy Associate Administrator for Strategic Partnerships, among others. Some NASA employees use private blogs to discuss their experience and to connect with colleagues and the public. OpenNASA, which describes itself as a “collaborative blog” by NASA employees at different field centers, includes no fewer than fifteen writers as well as occasional guest authors from outside NASA. The NASA community is also well represented in online social networks. While there are no definitive usage metrics, a quick search of Facebook for “National Aeronautics and Space Administration” turns up more than five hundred results. One thing is clear: a great many NASA people are passionate about their work and looking for new ways to share it.