From Bob

November 5, 2008

Excellent words of experience and expertise from Bob that I’ve copied from “RECENT COMMENTS” … these are the kinds of conversations we need to start having.

bob allen Says:
November 5, 2008 at 5:55 pm

Mike, I’d like to do two things — second Tim’s thought that content is still kindg 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…


3 Responses to “From Bob”

  1. recollins2004 Says:


    I 100% agree with what you are saying. I think consistency is a major weakness in NASA messaging.

    The ” FaceBook + MySpace + Twitter + blog + web page(s) treatment” is a two-sided coin. It has increased the visibility of programs, missions, and events but it has muddled the message and spread out resources.

    I like the ideas of convergence and architecture, but how do we make sure that we have message saturation while still limiting resources and being consistent?

  2. bob allen Says:

    Your question is exactly what (I think) this team should ask.

    I don’t have the answer. I think our job is to find it. And once we feel we have, to stay as current as we can with new, emerging technologies (i.e., the *next* MySpace).

    If pressed, I would propose that part of the answer lies with technologies (e.g., RSS feeds) and part of it lies in info architecture (i.e., prioritization and presentation). But that’s admittedly just a wild guess.

    Maybe we could/should:
    * Identify and define the challenges/problems we want to address.
    * Wander… Wander around the web, looking for sites and resources that do things particularly well and take note of those features.
    * Compare notes and discuss the things we’ve identified — we should ask questions like “What does do really well, and where does it fall flat? Does any of that fit our needs?”

    …and proceed from there?

  3. mpfinneran Says:

    I think the key is that we are on a search as Bob notes, with this team. Experimenting, exploring, etc. Convergence yes, but it isn’t here yet or at least we haven’t found it. What is the core message(s)? How does core messaging relate to getting folks INVOLVED in NASA thru things like Facebook? Should we be seeking external input and engagement “It’s YOUR NASA”) as well as messaging? Two different things … lots of stuff!

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