Exploring strange new worlds

November 3, 2008

htklqj2So … what is “new media?”

“Most often, when people are asked to describe the current media landscape, they respond by making an inventory of tools and technologies,” says Henry Jenkins, director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program and author of Convergence Culture.

“Our focus,” he says, “should be not on emerging technologies but on emerging cultural practices.”

That’s a great thought to keep in mind as we embark on our new media adventure, and along those lines, I believe our team ought to:

  • Use existing technology to communicate internally and externally
  • Include non-electronic interaction on the leading edge of cultural change (i.e., Yuri’s Night)
  • Understand the cultural practices that led to Facebook, YouTube, etc.
  • Lead the way to the future

Isn’t that what our colleagues across the agency are doing right now to explore space, understand the planet and solve the problems of flight? Let’s join them.

What are your thoughts? And how do we move forward?

I would like to hear from you.

Housekeeping notes

I will send each of you an invitation via WordPress to join this blog as a New Media Mogul, aka author. Authors can edit, publish and delete their posts, and upload files. You can also post comments through author’s entries without being an author.

I would like to use this blog as a virtual way of staying together, in addition to other ways. It might also be practical for keeping notes, agendas, etc. I’m not really sure of the best way to use it so please help define it.

So far team members are Tim Allen, Karen Freidt, Bob Allen, Denise Lineberry and Katrina Young. I’ll post a list of team members later when more folks have joined. If you know someone you think should be on the team, invite them.




8 Responses to “Exploring strange new worlds”

  1. I’m with you, Mike. It’s about emerging culture. Great technology can shape the culture by making communication tools easier and more accessible, but “content” is still king. That said, I have to admit that the potential to work with emerging media technology is one of the main things that drew me to work with NASA in the first place.

    I imagine that I’ll still be floating among many of the “amoeba” that Rich defined as the new teams (I think we all will!), but I’m energized to see that I’ll be working closer with all of you and sharing more “wackomedia” ideas between us.

  2. mpfinneran Says:

    Sean Smith and Michael Sean Walsh have joined the team. Welcome!

  3. katrinayoung Says:

    I hope that we can together look at using existing technologies and test driving new ones to improve how we communicate across many sectors in NASA and outside of our gates.

  4. Bil Kleb Says:


    I’d like to join the team, but lately I’ve been pulling my many irons out the fire…

  5. recollins2004 Says:


    You should look into joining us for a CoLab session one of these days to see how the new media team can benefit from that group, or vice versa!

  6. mpfinneran Says:

    Rory I’d love to check out CoLab. When is the next meeting. And what should I wear?

  7. bob allen Says:

    Mike, I’d like to do two things — second Tim’s thought that content is still kind and introduce three concepts I’d like the group to consider as it moves forward.

    They are — convergence, user focus and information architecture.


    User Focus — Probably totally counter-intuitive to a bureaucracy, but the basic idea is that we don’t decide what’s important, interesting or useful — the users do — and our job is to enable their explorations more than to guide them.

    Convergence — try to find ways to bring all of the (or at least all of the best) information on the subject at hand to the users efficiently in one step. Not every event or project needs the FaceBook + MySpace + Twitter + blog + web page(s) treatment . Not to mention that we’ll quickly run out of resources if we try to do that. Don’t expect users to surf ten sources for fragments of the message and piece it together as if it was a jigsaw puzzle. Instead, find, assemble and present the best NASA-generated information to them… directly… in one step.

    Information Architecture — broad area, but the basic idea I’m thinking of is that that new medium(s) open new possibilities on *how* to convey information. In other words, a static PDF of “NASA Fact Sheet” posted online in the same form that it would have if you held it in your hands may or may not be good enough anymore. Should we rip it apart, illustrate it and/or animate it? Can it be *replaced* entirely with a video/animation?

    You’re probably thinking this sounds like mumbo-jumbo. But I think if we were to develop a sense of what presentation type or combination is most effective with job type , it would eventually boil down to a best practices lessons-learned that we could document and share.

    This message will self-destruct in…

  8. bob allen Says:

    Content is still “king,” though it can be kind, too… I guess. Damn.

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