NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Launches Spacebook


image I've often said that this NASA CIO gig is pretty tough. But, there are many times ... like now ... where I am proud to be the CIO of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. We launched Spacebook this week. Woo-hoo!

We took a leap of faith and rocketed into social networking this week with the launch of Spacebook, an employee intranet that features user profiles, group collaboration spaces and social bookmarking. This is similar to Facebook, except that it is restricted to NASA's secure internal network. It's open to every employee of NASA.

I need to tell you that this whole Web 2.0 thing gives people the willies. We delayed the launch one week to make sure we addressed the very valid concerns raised by our stakeholders. Our legal folks wanted to make sure that we met our policy and regulatory obligations; our IT security folks wanted to make sure that we didn't expose NASA data or NASA networks to any additional risks; and finally our Office of Human Capital people wanted to make sure that we were all well-behaved and personally accountable.

There are a lot of phobias associated with social networking. I addressed some of them in Time to Face Your Facebook Phobia. I'm sure that many of these concerns were raised about the social impact of the invention of the telephone. Somehow ... someway ... we worked through those issues. I'm sure that some of those serious issues may appear silly now. I expect that we will look back on the serious issues raised by Web 2.0 technologies in wonder and amazement.

As CIOs we are required to provide lead efforts to improve the competitive advantage our organizations need through implementation of collaborative technologies. Technologies like Facebook and Myspace gives us those capabilities. There are, however, some very valid barriers to entry. Launching capabilities like this on internal networks reduces those barriers of entry. IBM has done this with their internal social networking site, Beehive and MITRE has done this with their internal Twitter capability.

One of the most amazing things about these Web 2.0 technologies and the greatest value to NASA is the ability to help us create a culture of engagement and collaboration that makes each individual employee much more effective. Engaging the public, harnessing the power of crowds, and open and transparent government ... as my friend Efrain and fav acquisition professional would say ... it's ALL good Poopsie.

What's next for Spacebook? There are currently pilots at Ames Research Center and Kennedy Space Center on SharePoint so integrating these capabilities may be desirable. The ability to leverage use of widgets and have use mashable apps is something that we want. We would like to include blogs and a more seamless interface to NASA web capabilities including those potentially offered in the web services sourced by one of NASA's I3P contracts.

NASA has a strong external presence on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace. Not too many people will "get" this ... but back in my heyday, we use to say "IBM sells MVS but they use VM". Well, now, we at NASA get a chance to actually use more securely and internally the capabilities that we use to communicate to the public. Perhaps these Web 2.0 technologies will make us the bionic agency ... will be faster, stronger, better than before. Regardless of the hyperbole, I'm proud this week to be the CIO of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Linda Cureton, CIO, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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