Findings from the NASAsphere Pilot 

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology   Knowledge Arciteture and Technology Task 
Report written by: Celeste Merryman  JPL Pilot Team:  Celeste Merryman, pilot manager, Computer Sciences Corporation, NASA JPL  Dougals Hughes, project manager, NASA JPL       
Copyright 2008 California Institute of Technology, Government Sponsorship Acknowledged 

Version‐8/20/08                                                                                                                                 CL#08‐4654 

Images provided by and used with permission of Socialcast.

FINDINGS FROM THE NASASPHERE PILOT 

Table of Contents 
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1. 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 2. INTRODUCTION FEDERAL AGENCY CASE STUDY NASA APPLICATION PHASE 1 RESEARCH SCOPE PHASE 2 RESEARCH SCOPE METHODOLOGY PHASE 1 PARTICIPANTS PILOT OVERVIEW PHASE 2 PARTICIPANTS PILOT OVERVIEW 4 11 11 12 13 13 14 14 14 14 15 15 16 16

2.1 2.1.1 2.1.2 2.2 2.2.1 2.2.2 3.

RESEARCH FINDINGS

3.1 PHASE 1 AND 2 RESEARCH QUESTIONS 16 3.1.1 WOULD NASA EMPLOYEES AND CENTER CONTRACTORS PARTICIPATE IN SOCIAL NETWORKING PILOT? 18 3.1.2 WOULD SOCIAL NETWORKING BE USED BY MULTIPLE GENERATIONS? 18 3.1.3 WOULD NASA EMPLOYEES AND CENTER CONTRACTORS USE SOCIAL NETWORKING TO DISCUSS WORK-RELATED TOPICS? 20 3.1.4 WOULD NASA EMPLOYEES AND CENTER CONTRACTORS FIND SOCIAL NETWORKING USEFUL ENOUGH TO INVITE THEIR COLLEAGUES? 23 3.1.5 WOULD NASA EMPLOYEES AND CENTER CONTRACTORS FIND SOCIAL NETWORKING A USEFUL WAY TO INTERACT WITH OTHER NASA EMPLOYEES AND CONTRACTORS? 25 3.2 PHASE 2 FINDINGS 28 3.2.1 TECHNICAL CAPABILITIES 28 3.2.2 CROSS-CENTER PROGRAMS OR PROJECTS 28 3.5 OTHER FINDINGS 30 3.5.1 EASE OF USE 30 4. DISCUSSION CREATED A SENSE OF COMMUNITY ENHANCED CONNECTIONS USED FOR NASA BUSINESS MAKING AND SHARING CONNECTIONS SHARING A “DAY-IN-THE-LIFE” OF A NASA SCIENTIST ASKING WHERE TO FIND CRITICAL INFORMATION AND DATA TO SUPPORT A NASA TASK IMPACT OUTSIDE OF NASA 32 33 33 34 34 34 35 36

4.1 4.2 4.3 4.3.1 4.3.2 4.3.3 4.4

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Table of Contents continued 
5. RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDATIONS AND POTENTIAL FUTURE USE BY PARTICIPANTS RECOMMENDATIONS BY PARTICIPANTS POTENTIAL FUTURE USE BY PARTICIPANTS RECOMMENDATIONS TO NASA FOR IMPLEMENTATION IMPLEMENTATION PHASE 1 IMPLEMENTATION PHASE 2 37 37 37 38 39 39 40 42 43 43 43 44 5.1 5.1.1 5.1.2 5.2 5.2.1 5.2.2

REFERENCES APPENDIX A - SOCIALCAST CLIENT DATA SECURITY INFORMATION 1. APPLICATION SECURITY 2. DATA CENTER SECURITY APPENDIX B – POSTINGS AND RESPONSES FROM NASASPHERE

PARTICIPANT RESPONSES TO THE QUESTION “WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE ADOPTION OF SOCIAL NETWORKING IN NASA? IS IT JUST FOR GEN YERS, OR CAN US OLDER FOLKS DO IT TOO?”44 PARTICIPANT RESPONSES TO THE QUESTION ”WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE BIGGEST BENEFIT OF NASASPHERE?” 47

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Executive Summary 
W HY S OCIAL N ETWORKING
Because NASA is more that just one expert and one center. New ideas and new solutions for NASA’s complex missions require input from a geographically dispersed community of knowledge workers. By providing an online social network, NASA creates a collective intelligence and learning community for and by NASA knowledge workers that disseminates mission-related information broadly and quickly.

P URPOSE OF THIS R ESEARCH
In order to investigate how NASA knowledge workers would use and apply online social networking in the NASA environment, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Knowledge Architecture and Advanced Technologies team developed and implemented a social networking pilot, called NASAsphere. The purpose of this social networking pilot was to investigate adoption and use of online social networking technology by NASA employees and contractors to cross-center and organizational boundaries and facilitate collective intelligence. The NASAsphere pilot team used a multi-phased approach to the investigation. During the course of this pilot, a great deal of data and information was collected to provide a picture of how NASA knowledge workers would use online social networking. This document presents information on the NASAsphere pilot and includes the pilot description, findings, and recommendations.

R ESEARCH Q UESTIONS
     Would NASA employees and center contractors participate in social networking pilot? Would NASA employees and center contractors find social networking a useful way to interact with other NASA employees and contractors? Would social networking be used by multi generations? Would NASA employees and center contractors use social networking to discuss work related topics? Would NASA employees and center contractors find social networking useful enough to invite their colleagues?

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Executive Summary 
W HAT IS NASA SPHERE
NASAsphere is an online social network that enables employees to move across physical boundaries established by disparate locations of centers, to move across traditional communication boundaries established by organizations, and to move outside personal networks, in order to share and foster collective intelligence for the betterment of conducting NASA business. Eightyseven people responded to an inquiry to join the pilot.

HOW IT WORKS
As described by a NASAsphere participant: “The network of a conversation spreads based on its topic rather than by person-to-person sharing.”

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Executive Summary 
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO NASA

R ESEARCH F INDINGS
NASAsphere Participants
By the end of the pilot, at least one person from every NASA center participated. Figure 1 below, presents NASAsphere participants by NASA center. NASAsphere participants invited 398 of their colleagues from around NASA, with 55% acceptance rate. The NASAsphere community grew from 78 activated accounts to 295 by the end of the 60-day pilot.
Figure 1. Graph of NASAsphere participants by NASA center at the start and end of the pilot.

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Executive Summary 
RESEARCH FINDINGS
NASAsphere Participant Activity – Questions, Ideas, Pages, Group
Numbers of answers and comments posted in response to “questions,” “ideas,” and “pages” shows people sharing knowledge and collaborating. See Figure 2 for actual participation numbers. Ninety-three percent (93%) of the questions answered were by people different center than that of the person who posted the question.

93% of answers were from a different NASA center

Figure 2. Posting type and numbers of NASAsphere postings.

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Executive Summary 
RESEARCH FINDINGS
Participants and NASAsphere’s Future
In a NASAsphere participant user experience survey, participants were asked “What do you recommend should happen with NASAsphere?” “How frequently would you read NASAsphere?” and “How frequently would you contribute to NASAsphere?” Figure 3 below shows the survey responses based on the 53 people that responded.

Figure 3. Response percentages on questions from the NASAsphere Participant User Experience Survey.

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Executive Summary 
Summary Findings & Conclusions
The findings from the pilot are presented in more detail in the body of the report. Below is summary of the findings in broad categories (see Figure 4 below).

Figure 4. Summary of the findings and conclusions from the NASAsphere pilot.

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Executive Summary 
RECOMMENDATIONS
The recommendations are discussed in greater detail in the body of the report. Figure 5 is a high-level summary of the recommendations based on information from the NASAsphere pilot.

Figure 5. High-level recommendations from the NASAsphere pilot.

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Report 
1. Introduction
Social networking activity on the World Wide Web is growing. Per Bob Ivins, Executive VP of International Markets at comScore, “Literally hundreds of millions of people around the world are visiting social networking sites each month and many are doing so on a daily basis. It would appear that social networking is not a fad but rather an activity that is being woven into the very fabric of the global Internet.” Federal agencies, such as Centers for Disease Control, the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, the intelligence community, and the Transportation Security Administration are using online social networking to reach out to the public as a form of communication.” (Kash, 2007, Zyskowski, 2008) The Centers for Disease Control has a presence on MySpace, and is focusing on ways to connect its experts with “recoginzed bloggers in the healthcare field, e-game events, and alerts to cell phones. (Kash, 2007) The Transportation Security Administration has used its offical TSA blog to counter mistruths and to teach the public about what it does and why. (Zyskowski, 2008) NASA is also using publicfacing social networking to reach out to the public about the NASA missions through such vehicles as an offical NASA Facebook group and “Explorer Island” and “CoLab” space in Second Life.

1.1

Federal Agency Case Study

Federal agencies are also starting to adopt new and emerging online technology to support and enable collaborations for the knowledge workers. In December 2007, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a social networking site for their intelligence agency employee community called “A-space.” Thomas Fingar, Deputy Director of the National Intelligence for Analysis says the social network “will generate better analysis by breaking down firewalls across the traditionally stove-piped intelligence community.” Fingar also believes the technology “…can also help process increasing amounts of information where the number of analysts is limited.” (Sevastopulo, 2007) The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has also implemented “Intellipedia,” modeled after Wikipedia. Intellipedia connects individiuals (with security clearances) from 16 United States intelligence community agencies and other national-security related organizations on one platform for sharing information on difficult subjects facing the United States intelligence community. (Intellipedia, 2008) As of November 2007, the Intellipedia site had 37,000 users — including 20,000 working with top-secret projects and 10,000 on classified projects. (Kash, 2007) Dr. Thomas Fingar, Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis, cited the successful use of Intellipedia to develop an article on how Iraqi insurgents were using chlorine in improvised explosive devices saying, "They developed it in a couple of days interacting in Intellipedia," ... "No bureaucracy, no mother-may-I, no convening meetings. They did it and it came out pretty good. That’s going to continue to grow." (Intellipedia, 2008) On September 10, 2007 testimony before the United States Congress, Michael McConnell, Director of National Intelligence, stated “Analysts are also increasingly using interactive, classified blogs and wikis, much as the tech-savvy, collaboration-minded user would outside the Community. Intellipedia, the IC’s version of Wikipedia, and “A-Space” a common workspace environment likened in the press to the commercial website “MySpace,” are perhaps the bestknown examples. Such tools enable experts from different disciplines to pool their knowledge,

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form virtual teams, and quickly make complete intelligence assessments.” (McConnell, 2007)

1.2

NASA Application

In the Information Resources Management Strategic Plan, Jonathan Pettus, NASA’s Chief Information Officer stated: The strategic management and transformation of information and information technologies will be imperative to effectively realizing the Vision for Space Exploration. Effectively managing, preserving, protecting, and disseminating the information required to achieve, and resulting from, exploration is vital to mission success. Also, seamless collaboration of NASA workforce across multiple centers will be vital in the planning, design, and development of exploration-related capabilities and technologies. (Pettus, 2007, p. 5) Applying a social networking approach to enabling collaboration amongst the NASA knowledge workforce and thus across centers, is one way to meet NASA’s need to share and preserve information in support of the Vision for Space Exploration. NASA has been and continues to be tremendously successful at meeting its mission goals. However, new ideas and new solutions are becoming increasingly more difficult to generate at an individual level and the requirements for input from a community of people found across NASA centers to solve problems is growing. The speeds at which information must travel, as well as the broadness of its dissemination are crucial factors to meeting NASA mission goals. An enterprise-class online social network, when implemented in the NASA environment, would allow NASA knowledge workers to exchange, capture, and create a collective intelligence for NASA that is reusable agency-wide by all knowledge workers. By providing an online social network to its knowledge workers, NASA can open up information bottlenecks and speed up the time it takes to get information to the right people to make informed decisions. Online social networking is a viable option for capturing and sharing the undocumented knowledge people carry with them, their experiences and ideas and make it visible and usable by others. Creating collective intelligence along with knowledge sharing, capture, and reuse are critical to NASA’s mission success in the future. Here are some examples:  The Constellation Program relies on cross-pollination of ideas and collaboration to solve complex common goals, problems and solutions. As a cross-center, crossorganizational program, the Constellation Program needs easy to use and accessible technology that enables and encourages agency-wide knowledge sharing. In addition, there is a high likelihood that long-term duration missions will experience changes to the project teams. Capturing the real-time, undocumented and experiential knowledge of the Constellation project teams via an online social networking provides communication in context that deepens the situational knowledge and understanding for decision making by future project team members. The NASA knowledge workforce continues to transform as NASA addresses the demographic and capacity risk caused, not only by the aging NASA knowledge workforce, but also by the potential functional job changes and downsizing during the gap between the NASA Shuttle Program and the Constellation Program. (See NASA Workforce found at: http://wicn.nssc.nasa.gov/). Capturing knowledge of an exiting NASA knowledge workforce via exit interviews is extremely difficult to coordinate, time consuming and costly. In addition, the knowledge is out of context and thereby less useful. Using an online social networking approach to capturing and sharing knowledge during the course of business by an intact NASA knowledge workforce

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provides knowledge in context, is reusable by others in real-time or in the future, and cost effective. At or near the same time that an older workforce exits, a new one enters. The new workforce generation, who has grown up with user generated web content and social media, will expect technology and communication channels in the workplace. In order to investigate how NASA knowledge workers would use and apply online social networking in the NASA environment, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Knowledge Architecture and Advanced Technologies team developed and implemented a social networking pilot, called NASAsphere. The purpose of this social networking pilot was to investigate adoption and use of online social networking technology by NASA employees and contractors to cross-center and organizational boundaries and facilitate collective intelligence. The NASAsphere pilot team used a multi-phased approach to the investigation. During the course of this pilot, a great deal of data and information was collected to provide a picture of how NASA knowledge workers would use online social networking. This document presents information on the NASAsphere pilot and includes the pilot description, findings, and recommendations.

1.3

Phase 1 Research Scope

Implementing new and emerging online social networking technologies in the NASA environment is tricky because it is not just about the technology. “Collaboration and knowledge sharing are less a question of technology than of systems that facilitate people working together.” (Spira, 2005) In order to share knowledge and foster collective intelligence, it is important that NASA investigate new methods and technologies that will facilitate and enable employees to move across geographically dispersed NASA centers and to move across communication boundaries established by NASA organizations. How people interact and use the technology to drive innovation, achieve shared goals, as well as forming a source for collective intelligence is critical to NASA’s future missions. To investigate how NASA employees and contractors would adopt and use NASAsphere, Phase 1 research questions specifically included, but were not limited, to the following: • • • • • Would NASA employees and center contractors participate in a social networking pilot? Would NASA employees and center contractors find social networking a useful way to interact with other NASA employees and contractors? Would social networking be used by multiple generations? Would NASA employees and center contractors use social networking to discuss work related topics? Would NASA employees and center contractors find social networking useful enough to invite their colleagues?

1.4

Phase 2 Research Scope

Because of the strong social netorking activity and the support of a developing NASAsphere community, it was determined that a phase 2 would be beneficial and provide a mechaism to continue researching additional questions and ideas. The idea of integration appeared important to the NASAsphere community as they posted questions (unsolicited by the pilot team) and shared ideas of how NASAsphere should and could be integrated into the NASA technology environment. Developing and providing useful workplace tools is important to NASA as well as industry. According to Jonathan Spira, in his article on “Time to (re) innovate the office?” (Spira, 2005), tools designed to share knowledge are not used because they are not integrated into the work

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environment very well. Spira suggests the following three high-level tenets to consider when trying to create a sharing platform for knowledge workers: create one-environment for all tasks; create friction-free knowledge sharing, making it easy to share knowledge without thinking about it; and create an embedded community where people are able to communicate and collaborate contextually. Along these suggestions, phase 1 design of the NASAsphere pilot focused on making knowledge sharing easy to do for the participants and keeping the technology barriers down. The phase 2 design focused on sharing between two existing sets of data. The company and product utilzed for this pilot, Socialcast, is a very strong proponent of integrating existing content. Socialcast has a host of web services available and utilizes open APIs and RSS feeds to pull in content for other social media sites, like, blogs, Del.icio.us, Google Reader, LinkedIn and more. For phase 2 of the pilot, the purpose was to leverage the techncial capability of Socialcast and connect to existing NASA connent through APIs and or RSS feeds. Phase 2 targeted NASA content that was publicly available and included the names of NASA researchers and description their research. The goal was to increase the robustness of the NASAsphere profiles to include published research and thus building a richer expertise body of knowledge. NASA's Scientific and Technical Information (STI) was found to have an RSS feed and was the technical NASASphere integration focus for phase 2. Phase 2 continued with the existing NASAsphere community and participants were allowed to continue inviting collegues.

2.
2.1

METHODOLOGY
Phase 1

2.1.1 Participants
The target participant number for starting the NASAsphere pilot was 100 with representation from a variety of NASA centers and workforce organizations. Invitations were sent out to some existing group lists in NASA including NASA Knowledge Management list (approximately 100 people), NASA Engineering Network Environmental Test and Validation community of practice (approximately 57 people), NASA Lessons Learned Steering Committee (approximately 12 people), and a smattering of other NASA Engineering Network communities of practices. An invitation posting was also placed on InsideNASA. In addition, individuals circulated invitation emails to their personal social networks. The resulting participant list included 87 people, representing Ames Research Center (n=11), Glenn Research Center (n=8), Goddard Space Flight Center (n=13), Headquarters (n=6), Jet Propulsion Laboratory (n=8), Johnson Space Center (n=20), Kennedy Space Center (n=7), Langley Research Center (n=9), Marshall Space Flight Center (n=3), Stennis Space Center (n=2). Participants represented a variety of workforce organizations, such as public affairs, information management, librarians, education/outreach, human capital, knowledge management, collaboration technology, engineering, scientists, and procurement.

2.1.2 Pilot Overview
Many social networking or social media technology products exist in industry as well as in the open source community. Many of those products enable people to contribute openly to publicly accessible social networking sites. Because NASA is a federal agency, it was determined that in order to properly investigate social networking within NASA, the product needed to be in a COTS, corporate or enterprise class social networking product restricted to NASA only. Piloting a potentially implementable COTS product was an important criterion for this pilot project.

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To deliver NASAsphere, the project utilized the COTS product Socialcast because it had a welldeveloped pilot program, and was an enterprise class product with the potential of hosting inside the NASA firewall infrastructure. Socialcast provided a hosted and restricted pilot environment for NASAsphere. For more information about the server security at Socialcast see the “Socialcast Client Data Security Information” section in the Appendix A. The Socialcast product was rebranded as “NASAsphere” for the purpose our pilot. The pilot was designed to operate for 30 calendar days of user participation in Phase 1 and an additional 30 calendar days for Phase 2. The original 87 participants were provided a user participation document describing the duration of the pilot, “rules of engagement,” a list of minimum participation activities, as well as a list of ideas for additional participation activities to do if they were interested. See below more details. Rules of Engagement: • Participants are not allowed to post copyrighted material on the site. • Only individuals with a nasa.gov e-mail address will be allowed to become members. • Only content related to work will be allowed to be posted. • “Favorites” and personal information are allowed in the “Profile.” Minimum amount of networking participation: • Ask/post five questions or ideas; • Answer/comment on at least two (more if you can) questions or ideas; and • Update your personal profile. Participants were given a list of additional things they could do if they chose: • Create a your own “Groups” and invite people; and/or • Create your own “Pages” and add content, and allow people to contribute; and/or • Upload “Photos;” and/or • Whatever else you can find interest in doing. The rules of engagement were posted on the login page of NASAsphere for all participants to read. However, unless an original participant explained the participation activities to the individuals they invited, the subsequent invitees were not aware of the request. During the pilot, participants were supported via a number of methods. On the first day of the pilot, the vendor provided technical support to participants who might have issues like logging in for the first time to NASAsphere. Four WebEx meetings, one per week, were set up on various topics related to how to use the features of NASAsphere. The meetings were recorded for later reuse. The pilot coordinator and the vendor were assigned the task of monitoring NASAsphere participation in order to catch and solve technical issues, as well as catch improvement suggestions related to the pilot and/or the product. The pilot coordinator was also available via phone and e-mail.

2.2

Phase 2

2.2.1 Participants
Phase 2 continued with the existing NASAsphere community and participants (n=264) were allowed to continue inviting collegues.

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2.2.2 Pilot Overview
For Phase 2 of the pilot, the purpose was to leverage the techncial capability of Socialcast and connect to existing NASA connent through APIs and or RSS feeds. Phase 2 targeted NASA content that was publicly available and included the names of NASA researchers and description their research. The goal was to increase the robustness of the NASAsphere profiles to include published research and thus building a richer expertise body of knowledge. As a starting point, Socialcast prepared NASAsphere to receive the feeds from NASA's Scientific and Technical Information (STI). Also during Phase 2, additional groups of people were approached or encouraged to join, for example people working for the Constellation Program.

3.

Research Findings

In order to investigate social networking in the NASA environment, it was important to utilize two sources of data sets; data from the social networking activity and data from the feedback collected via the NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation. The complete NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation responses and findings are found in Appendix C – NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation. The research questions established for Phase 1 of the pilot also apply through the Phase 2. The data and findings presented in this section cover the full 60 days of the pilot. The Phase 2 Findings section specifically deals with the additional technical capabilities researched and tested during that part of the pilot. Phase 1 covered the period May 12, 2008 through June 10, 2008. Phase 2 covered the period June 11, 2008 through July 11, 2008. The research findings are discussed below.

3.1

Phase 1 and 2 Research Questions

Of the 87 people who responded to the inquiry stating they wanted to participate in a social networking pilot, 78 (89.6% activation rate) eventually activated their accounts. As the pilot went on, more and more people invited their colleagues to join and the participant numbers increased. At the end of Phase 2 there were 295 people with activated accounts. See Figure 1 below for a graph of the NASAsphere participants by NASA center. Table 1 below describes the breakdown of NASAsphere participants by NASA organization through Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the pilot. “Exploration Systems” (n=45) had the most participants, followed by “Science” (n=34), “Public Affairs” (n=33), and “Space Operations” (n=32), respectively.

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Figure 1. Graph of NASAsphere participants by NASA center at the start and end of the pilot. Number (N=295) 5 11 9 31 23 45 18 33 34 32 16 11 2 21 4

Organization Not Declared Aeronautics Research Office of the Chief Engineer Office of the Chief Information Officer Education/Public Outreach Exploration Systems Human Capital Public Affairs Science Space Operations Innovative Partnerships Infrastructure Services/Operations Office General Counsel Information Management Procurement

Table 1. Breakdown of NASAsphere participants by NASA organization.

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3.1.1 Would NASA employees and center contractors participate in social networking pilot?
To answer the research question whether or not NASA knowledge workers would participate in social networking, data collected from the social networking activity and usage were reviewed. The data collected during the pilot shows that people did participate in social networking. Figure 2 above represents the data on the number of questions (n=79), ideas (n=40), and pages (n=10) posted to the NASAsphere community, as well as the numbers of responses from the NASAsphere community via answers (n=561) and comments on ideas (n= 250) and pages (n=79). The data also shows the NASAsphere content was posted by a large number of unique participants. Forty-nine unique participants posted questions or ideas. Ninety-four unique participants posted an answer to a question or commented on an idea. This indicates that many people and not simply one or two NASA knowledge workers supported NASAsphere. Figure 6 below presents the graph representing unique participants. In addition, NASAsphere participants started 26 groups that 179 unique people joined. Overall, the data supports the notion that NASA employees and contractors would participate in a social networking pilot.

Figure 6. Graph representing the number of unique participants who posted questions or answered/commented on questions.

3.1.2 Would social networking be used by multiple generations?
The age ranges for generations vary greatly. Birth date ranges for “Generation Y,” also known as “milennials” have included those born second half of 1970s and the first half of 1990s, (Yan, 2006) those born between 1981 and 1993 (Deloitte, 2008) and 1981/82 to 2002/03. (Baker College, Effective Teaching and Learning Department, 2004) “Baby Boomers” tend to be born around 1943 through 1960 and “Generation X” tend to be born around 1961 through 1961 through 1981. (Baker College, Effective Teaching and Learning Department, 2004). In spite of the broad opinions in cateogrizing the generations, this report takes the approach that the most influenctial aspect of birth years is that it creates a generation which is defined as “a group of individuals born and living about the same time” and that the group is regarded as having a “common culture or social characteristics and attitudes.” (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

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The generation Y cohort is of concern to employers (Yan, 2006), as the older generation Y members enter the workforce and the baby boomer cohort members are nearing retirement age. (NAS Recruitment Communications, 2006) This is also a concern for NASA. One reason for the concern by employers derives from the technology expectations of a generation raised with computers with easily available Internet access. (Yan, 2006; NAS Recruitment Communications, 2006) Generation Y, however old they may be, as a group they have been described as “techno-savvy” and “connected 24/7” (Deloitte, 2008) and have expectations that they will find the same technology in their work lives that they use in their personal lives. How generations approach technology in the workforce is important to NASA. To find out how the social networking fairs in a sample of the NASA workforce, this pilot researched the simple question, “would social networking be used by multiple generations?” The age of the NASAsphere participants was purposely not collected during the pilot to avoid age-related bias, so the answer needed to be approached differently. One way to find out qualitatively what people thought, was to post the question to the NASAsphere community, asking, “What are your thoughts on the adoption of social networking in NASA? Is it just for Gen Yers, or can us older folks do it too?” Twenty-seven answers were posted in response to this question. The answers were categorized into “generation Y” or “anyone” and revealed that 24 agreed that social networking is for anyone regardless of age. The three remaining answers were placed into an “other” category of general statements not attached to one category or the other. Some participants that responded to this question stated in their comments, that qualities and attitude are key to participating in social networking (see Table 2 below). The full-text of the answers are shown in Appendix B - Postings and Responses from NASAsphere. List of qualities that participants noted as important to social network participation Person’s attitude and openness Person’s willing to embrace (new things) Person’s ‘ageless' attitude Person’s attitude - can overcoming fears Can see the benefit to the individual Usability and intuitive of the tool Wiliness to explore new ways to enhance communication
Table 2. List of qualities that participants noted as important to social network participation.

Further investigation into this question was enabled by placing a question on the NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation asking people to categorize themselves into a broad generational category of “Generation Y,” Generation X,” “Baby Boomer,” or “Don’t know,” or “Don’t care.” “Other” was also an option. As cited above, there are large variances in defined generation brackets, so it we best to let people self identify. The answers to this question are specific to the subsample of NASAsphere participants and provide only a potential for extrapolation regarding the generational make-up of the NASAsphere participants. The category most selected was “Generation X” (40% or 22 people). “Baby Boomer” and “Generation Y” were each selected by 23.6% (n=13) of the responders, respectively. Based on the response data from the generational-related questions, a general assertion can be made that many of the NASAsphere participants believe that social networking is not bound by age. A range of generations appeared to have participated in the NASAsphere pilot. Figure 7 below shows how the NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation responders answered the question “From what generation would you categorize yourself?”

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Figure 7. The NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation responses to the question “From what generation would you categorize yourself?”

3.1.3 Would NASA employees and center contractors use social networking to discuss work-related topics?
On the login page, “rules of engagement” were posted to remind participants that the purpose of NASAsphere was a platform for work-related discussions and topics. In order to assess and answer this research question, content categories and associated posted questions, as well as the keywords participants used to tag their content were reviewed. The pilot manager established the content categories and participants were not able to change or modify them. The participants were however, able to create their own keywords for their content. 3.1.3.1 Categories Used Below is a list of the categories used in the NASAsphere pilot (see Table 3 below). In parenthesis are the numbers of questions associated with the respective content category. When posting a question, NASAsphere participants selected from one of the options presented in Table 3.

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List of categories used by NASAsphere participants General (17) Education/Public Outreach (18) Engineering (8) Human Capital (3) Information Management (1) Information Technologies (6) Innovative Partnerships (1) Legal (1) NASAsphere pilot (13) Policies/Procedures (3) Procurement (0) Project Management (2) Safety and Mission Assurance (0) Science (1) Web Technologies (6) Table 3. List of categories used by NASAsphere participants

Overall, participants kept to the expectations that NASAsphere be used for work-related questions and answers. Nearly all the questions posted were related to NASA work/tasks, was somehow contributing to the NASA mission via education/outreach activities, or was related to the pilot. Of the 80 questions posted, five could be considered to be “non-work” related; however, they are not considered inappropriate. Table 4 below lists the “non-work” related questions.
List of questions that could be considered “non-work” related How is every one? (General) Did you know we now have NASA Edge T-shirts and Hats at the Gift Shop? (General) Have you heard about the Google campus at Ames? (Education/Public Outreach) Who is biking to work this Friday, May 16th? (Education/Public Outreach) Where did Dustin get his avatar? (Web Technologies) Table 4. List of questions that could be considered “non-work” related (5 of 80 total questions)

3.1.3.2

Keywords and Tagging

In addition to the standardized categories used for questions, NASAsphere participants were also provided an open-ended textbox to add their own respective keywords to their questions. Keywords, also known as “tags” can be used in NASAsphere for searching content. In order to find out what tags NASAsphere participants used on their respective questions, a tag cloud analysis was utilized looking for the top 200 words with more than two occurrences. Using these criteria, the results revealed that 127 out of 391 possible words occurred more than two times. The results are presented in a tag cloud format below in Figure 8. The frequency of a word dictates the size of the word. The number of occurrences is shown to the right of the word. Overall review of the tags used by NASAsphere participants shows that content was tagged with work related terms.

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Figure 8. Results of a tag cloud analysis on keyword tags used by NASAsphere participants.

3.1.3.3

Feedback from Participants

In addition to analysis of the categories and tags used by in NASAsphere participants, feedback was also collected on what participants thought about the discussions and comments. A question was placed on the NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation and asked respondents to rate statements related to openness and whether the discussions and comments were “on topic,” “helpful,” and “appropriate.” Overall, the majority of the 55 respondents rating the statement “strongly agreed” or “agreed” stating, “it was easy to communicate openly... ” (81.8%), and that discussions and comments were “on topic” (76.4%), “helpful” 65.5%, and “appropriate” (74.5%). Interpretations of these particular responses suggest that NASA knowledge workers did not abuse the freedom to communicate openly on topics of their choosing. Figure 9 below shows the breakdown of responses on the NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation.

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Figure 9. The NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation responses to the statement ”Please rate each statement.”

3.1.4 Would NASA employees and center contractors find social networking useful enough to invite their colleagues?
To answer this research question, the NASAsphere invitation data, as well as two questions placed on the NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation are analyzed. An invitation system was part of the NASAsphere pilot and each NASAsphere participant was allowed to invite NASA colleagues who had nasa.gov e-mail domain addresses. The restriction was set at the administration level. When the pilot first started, each participant was provided three invitations and allowed to invite other colleagues from NASA. Within the first week, several people requested additional invitations because they said they used their allotment in the first day. The invitation system was then modified to give each participant 10 invitations per day. The only numeric limiting factor on sending invitations was the 500 activated accounts set by the contract with the vendor. NASAsphere participants sent 398 invitations to colleagues across NASA centers. Two hundred and twenty-one (221) invitations were accepted for a 56% acceptance rate. Figure 10 below displays the invitations sent as well as the accepted invitations over time during the 60 days of the pilot.

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Phase 2 started June 11th

Figure 10. Graph of invitations sent by NASAsphere participants and invitations accepted.

In addition to invitation activity, NASAsphere participants were asked two related questions on the NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation. Figure 11 below shows the responses from the question that asks participants if they “told others about NASAsphere.” Of the 51 people that answered this question, 76.4% said they had told others about NASAsphere.

Figure 11. The NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation responses to the question “I told others about NASAsphere.”

NASAsphere participants were also asked if they “invited” others to NASAsphere. Of the 51 people who answered “yes” to this question, 57.4% said they had invited others. Figures 12 below show responses from the question that asks participants if they “invited others to NASAsphere.” Based on a review of the data from the user experience evaluation and the invitation activity data, the findings support the notion that “yes” NASA employees and contractors did find NASAsphere useful enough to invite their colleagues.

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Figure 12. The NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation responses to the question “I invited others to NASAsphere.”

3.1.5 Would NASA employees and center contractors find social networking a useful way to interact with other NASA employees and contractors?
To answer this research question both the comments posted by NASAsphere participants, as well as the responses on the NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation were analyzed. Commenting and questions regarding “usefulness,” “productivity,” and “benefits” are presented and discussed individually in the section below. 3.1.5.1 Usefulness To find out what NASAsphere participants thought about social networking and interacting with others on NASAsphere, a question was placed on the NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation. Of the 51 people that answered this question, 42.9% said it was “moderately useful” and 25.9% said it was “very useful.” Combining the two “useful” response categories shows that at total of 68.8% of the people found NASAsphere to be a useful way to communicate and connect with other NASA employees and contractors. In contrast, 20.4% said it was “not useful.” Figure 13 below shows the responses from the question that asks participants “how useful was it to interact with other[s].” Overall there were no questions or comments posted in the NASAsphere community that presented a negative tone regarding the lack of usefulness.

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Figure 13. The NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation responses to the question “How useful was it to interact with other NASA employees and contractors on NASAsphere?”

3.1.5.3

Productivity

Management of organizations are frequently interested in tools, processes, and steps that increase the productivity of its employees. To find out what the NASAsphere participants thought about work productivity, a question was placed on the NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation stating “NASAsphere increased my work productivity by saving me…” A combined 28% said it saved “minutes” or “hours.” Seventy-two (72%) percent of the 50 responses, said that NASAsphere “did not save me time at all.” The results from the question are presented in Figure 14 below.

Figure 14. The NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation responses to the question “NASAsphere

increased my work productivity by saving me…” Sixteen people added “comments” in response to this question. Comments captured via this question revealed that some found NASAsphere to be helpful to productivity and some did not. Examples of “Supportive” and “Critical” comments related to productivity and NASAsphere are found in Table 5 below. For a complete listing of all 16 comments captured, see Q10 in Appendix C – NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation.

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“Critical”
“There are very few engineers on NASAsphere with the kind of technical knowledge that would make the service worthwhile to me.”

“Supportive”
“Was able to obtain documents on a similar project from another Center that we would have had to create from scratch if not gotten on NASAsphere.” “Through NASAsphere I was able to ask questions and get information from individuals with whom I have no other connection. Since my job requires understanding the climate and operations of areas unknown to me, NASAsphere is an invaluable tool. Its value (for me) will increase as the size of its population increases.” “It has the potential to save me days. There is a great deal of work I do that I know others are doing in other areas of NASA. By being able to connect with those people and find out how they are solving problems, I can save a significant amount of time.”

“Not a wide enough participation to be useful. If applied to a mission team or project, could be utilized more effectively than the seemingly random test group.”

“It was too early to reap benefits. Any network becomes truly useful when everyone you need to involve in the conversation is already linked, which was not the case for almost any of the people I interact with.”

Table 5. “Critical” and “Supportive” comments from NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation respondents regarding productivity and NASAsphere.

Inviting and involving more participants could correct some of the statements above in the “critical” column. All participants were allowed to invite their colleagues and work friends. NASAsphere and other types of online social networks are “opt-in” situations and reliant on the members to sustain the community and activity levels. Individuals that choose to activate membership accounts and lurk receive some benefit from reading posts, but may not be as satisfied with the posts or membership as those who actively participate my reading, posting, and reusing the knowledge of others. 3.1.5.3 Benefits At least one NASAsphere participant was interested in finding out what other participants thought of NASAsphere and posted a question to the community asking, “What do you see as the biggest benefit of NASAsphere?” The responses are found below in Table 6. Connecting and communicating across centers and organizations, seems to be a common benefit. Responses to “What do you see as the biggest benefit of NASAsphere?”
“I see NASAsphere as a mechanism for making contact with people I would never meet or interact with otherwise.” “My argument would be that NASAsphere is an ideal forum for cross-directorate and crosscenter communication and collaboration.” “Right now, I'd say that this is another way to reach out to different parts of NASA & find out what people are doing.” “Usability. I find it very easy to navigate around and utilize a large number of features of the site.” “It's nice to connect with people on content regardless of their position, organization or location.” Table 6. Responses to “What do you see as the biggest benefit of NASAsphere?”

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3.1.5.4 Summary

Overall, it appears that the findings support the notion that NASA employees and contractors found NASAsphere useful. With regard to “productivity” however, the majority of the participants completing the NASAsphere User Experience Survey do not believe NASAsphere saved them time in getting their work done. A few people stated that use of NASAsphere has the potential to save them time if there were more participants and more content relevant to their particular jobs. NASAsphere also provided benefits to participants by providing a mechanism of making connections and contacts with the “unknown knowledge workers” of NASA, in other words, those people who you do not know who have information you need.

3.2

Phase 2 Findings

Two hundred and sixty-four (n=264) people started Phase 2 of the NASAsphere pilot. By the end of the pilot, there where 295 active accounts; 31 people joined during Phase 2 of the pilot. One possible reason for the drop off in people joining and participating during Phase 2 could be attributed to the fact that the second phase occurred in July, a known time for summer vactions. Originally, the NASAsphere pilot was designed for 30 days starting in the month of May to avoid most summer vacations. The pilot was extended to focus on potential technical capabilities rather than exponential growth of the NASAsphere community itself.

3.2.1 Technical Capabilities
The primary purpose for Phase 2 was to leverage the techncial capability of NASAsphere’s backend product by connecting to existing NASA content through APIs and/or RSS feeds. In order to expedite the connections to NASA content, publicly available NASA content that included the names of NASA researchers and description their research were sought. NASA's Scientific and Technical Information (STI) database was found to include information that could add value to the profiles of NASAsphere particpants by linking research reports. In the process of prepping NASAsphere to receive the STI RSS feeds and link the content to the appropriate NASAsphere participants, it was found that the STI RSS feeds did not include the authors of the report, or keywords associated with report content. Therefore, it was not possible to connect the research report content found in the STI RSS feeds to the profiles of NASAsphere participants. This would have not only increased the robustness of the profiles by adding additional levels of “expertise” but also would have shown interoperability between NASAsphere and existing NASA content. The vendor for STI was approached and it is possible that the feed could have been updated, but the pilot drew to a close before the final communication was made with the STI content owner. It was possible to receive the STI RSS feed and render it in NASAsphere. The content as presented as NASA “publications” with the limited feed information that linked to the STI Web site. A new heading was placed in the NASAsphere top navigation to provide access to the 291 STI publications that were part of the STI RSS feed. Current and future interoperability and reuse of existing NASA content posted to Web sites and web-enabled tools requires NASA to render content in up-to-date methods, like RSS feeds, APIs and the like. This capability enables repurposing data in new ways that allows individuals create new analysis and views of information, critical for innovation.

3.2.2 Cross-center Programs or Projects
As mentioned earlier in a quote from the Information Resources Management Strategic Plan “…seamless collaboration of NASA workforce across multiple Centers will be vital in the

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planning, design, and development of exploration-related capabilities and technologies.” (Pettus, 2007, p. 5) The heavy burden of knowledge sharing and transfer falls to the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate and specifically the Constellation Program which has tremendous pressure to ensure NASA mission success across NASA centers and project time. It was important to understand in people from the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate would use NASAsphere. By the end of Phase 2, 46 participants said in their profiles that they were part of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. Four of those indicated that they also worked on Constellation Projects. NASAsphere participants completing the NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation were asked if they “…work for any cross-center programs or projects?” Fifty-six (56%) percent of the 55 respondents said “yes” they worked on cross-center programs while (44%) said they did not. Table 7 lists the cross-center programs or projects NASAsphere participants said they worked
on. List of the cross-center programs or projects
CCM Clean Air Act and other environmental issues Constellation Constellation Constellation Project Exhibits Program Expedite the Processing of Experiments to Space Station (ExPRESS) Logistics Fundamental Aeronautics and Constellation Fundamental Aeronautics Program - Supersonics Human Capital Dashboarding Effort Innovative Partnerships Program Internal Communication: Oversee Internal Website, Center Calendar and 90-Day Report, work various cross center teams regularly International Space Station Program IPP ISS, Constellation Knowledge management, NEN, Web 2.0, KAAT KSC, WSTF LCROSS LDP Rapid Messaging Group and Constellation Program: ORION Libraries Lunar Surface Systems Mission Directorate segment architectures. Most projects are cross-center. NASA Digital Library, NASA Information Services Alliance NASA Web Managers, Agency Web Council NEN, NASA Jabber Shuttle Transition and Retirement Since we are linked to public outreach, we tend to work with many different scientists throughout all of NASA. Small parts of just about all of 'em Space Biosciences Space Flight Awareness ST-7

Table 7. Here is the list of cross-center programs or projects NASAsphere participants said they worked on.

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3.5

Other Findings

3.5.1 Ease of Use
Ease of use is a critical element in enabling and supporting online social networking. Technology should be a controlled variable with low negative impact to people sharing and transferring knowledge. To find out what participants thought about the technology used to enable NASAsphere, a question was placed on the NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation. Overall, the 55 people that responded to this question found it “easy” to complete social networking activities using the product and that the product did not seem to be a barrier to online social networking. In addition, it was revealed that a high proportion of people never attempted many of the social networking activities. A breakdown of the activities and responses are found in Figure 19 below.

Figure 19. The NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation responses to the statement “Please rate the degree of ease for completing the activities below.”

In anticipation that some people would rather read and lurk on NASAsphere, a follow-up question was asked on the NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation to find out why people did not post questions or ideas. Twenty-nine people answered the question, “If you did not post ideas or questions, what were your reasons?” and responders were allowed to select more statement. “Just wanted to read and learn” and “Work related constraints (not enough time)” were the most selected statements at 44.8% (n=13) for each, respectively. “Still learning about social networking” was selected nine times. Figure 20 below shows the question and responses. Comments captured by the “other” option are provided in Figure 21 below.

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Figure 20. The NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation responses to the question “If you did not post ideas or questions, what were your reasons?”

Figure 21. The NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation comments captured for the question “If you did not post ideas or questions, what were your reasons?”

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4. Discussion
Wells, a Research Fellow at the A Pew Internet & American Life Project, recently released a memo entitled “A Portrait of Early Internet Adopters.” (2008) In it she reminds us that social networking is not a new and that people have been networking via the computer since the late 1970 electronic bulletin board systems, Usenet, chat rooms, and threaded discussions. In the early days of the Internet, networking activities were “serial connections” like people querying systems, one-to-one communications, and highly defined communities. (Wells, 2008) Currently, Web 2.0 enabled technology are easier to use and allow more people to share and create content at much faster rates to a much broader audience at simultaneously. Web 2.0 enabled technologies are migrating from the consumer and student populations to the business world. (Shuen, 2008) When implemented in the business environment, employees use online social networking to connect with colleagues and collaborate cross-departments making innovation easer and faster; they talk “about things that have an impact on the business," (Shuen, 2008) The Knowledge Architecture and Advanced Technologies task at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory developed and implemented a social networking pilot, called NASAsphere, to investigate adoption and use of Web 2.0 enabled online social networking by NASA knowledge workers. Social networking is important to NASA because NASA is more that just one expert and one center. New ideas and new solutions for NASA’s complex missions require input from a geographically dispersed community of knowledge workers. By providing an online social network, NASA creates a collective intelligence and learning community for and by NASA knowledge workers that disseminates mission-related information broadly and quickly. The NASAsphere pilot focused on answering the following questions:      Would NASA employees and center contractors participate in social networking pilot? Would NASA employees and center contractors find social networking a useful way to interact with other NASA employees and contractors? Would social networking be used by multi generations? Would NASA employees and center contractors use social networking to discuss work related topics? Would NASA employees and center contractors find social networking useful enough to invite their colleagues?

Over the 60 days of the pilot, the NASAsphere community grew from 78 to 295 people. Analysis of the social networking data and the feedback captured via the NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation support agreement to each of the research questions. Overall, NASAsphere participants seemed to enjoy there experience and could see benefit from having NASAsphere implemented. This comment, captured via the NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation, expresses the impression NASAsphere had on this individual and potentially NASA as a whole: This is setting a foundation for positive changes in areas that must change more rapidly e.g., exciting and motivating youth/new hires, cross-Agency mentoring and training, telework accessibility, project collaboration, less fear of reprisal (not as much fear speaking out with support group or online), green! (saves paper, gas, flights), cost efficient (time and money), improved knowledge management, demonstrate we act on our values, builds trust because is transparent and real, removes hierarchical barriers in management and allows immediate

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communication at any level, helps employees understand more about NASA as a whole so can better communicate to the public, acts as a testing ground for more external electronic communications with partners and public, ........................................on and on. The future is big but we must not become complacent. Our tools must continue to technically evolve with the speed of need. And what excites me most is that this has the immediate ability to take collaboration throughout the Agency to a level not now possible. For 50 years, the Agency has been too large and diversely located to even meet in one place physically. This tool allows us to meet, exchange ideas, built trust and relationships no matter what our location. Many problems in large organizations stem from individual groups separating themselves in their thinking. If put in a room together virtually or physically people start to see common ground and understand and learn from their differences when they exist. I think NASAsphere has the potential to help in many areas and in many ways. It is difficult to pinpoint what caused the success of the NASAsphere pilot. Uncontrollable factors such as the mix of participants and the ripeness of NASA for social networking are likely contributors to the success. Framing the purpose and expectations of NASAsphere for the participants likely contributed an overall success and is suggested for future technology pilots. Participants were provided rules of engagement, that outlined the boundaries of “how” and “what” they could discuss to keep down, or eliminates the “what I did last night” postings and focuses on work related questions and comments. As a result, nearly 100% of the postings were work-related. Participants were also asked to post questions or ideas and comment on questions or ideas. As a result, 541 comments on questions were posted to 79 questions, 250 comments were posted to 40 ideas. Participants were also allowed the freedom to invite the work colleagues. As a result, NASAsphere participants sent 398 invitations to colleagues across NASA center, with 221 accepting the invites (56%). The remainder of this section discusses other areas where NASAsphere made an impact.

4.1

Created a Sense of Community

NASAsphere allowed NASA employees and contractors, though separated physically by geography, to feel united and have a sense of belonging in the NASA community. In the NASAsphere environment, questions and answers were welcomed and nonthreatening. Participants said it was easy to openly communicate within the NASAsphere community. NASAsphere allowed people to focus on the question and not the person asking it. NASAsphere leveled the playing field and removed the barriers of job status frequently experienced outside an online community. Also removed were the barriers restricting access to people from other “departments” or centers. Everyone contributed to one body of knowledge and had equal access to information and potential benefit. Those participants who chose not to post questions or comments still benefited from reading the growing body of knowledge and making connections to people the had not known before. A non-intimidating and user-friendly approach to social networking likely contributed to success of NASAsphere and may have provided a good experience for those not familiar with social networking, encouraging participation.

4.2

Enhanced Connections

NASA has an Agency-wide employee directory for employees and contractors, that is limited to information such as NASA center, e-mail, and phone number. NASAsphere provided an opportunity for NASAsphere participants to share rich expertise information, like a profile photo, personal and professional interests, research interests, and job history. NASAsphere also

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allowed pilot participants to share contact information like instant messaging and cell phones numbers. When reviewing the questions and comments people posted, it was obvious that people used NASAsphere to discuss not only where to find specific data, but also as mechanism to get to know what people know and who knows it in NASA. NASAsphere enabled NASA knowledge workers to meet people in their own disciplines from other centers. It also allowed people just to get to know each other and put a face to a name. Here is a quote from a participant, captured via a NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation open-ended question asking respondents to share thoughts or experiences about NASAsphere, relating the story of what it was like connecting to other NASA knowledge workers: I thoroughly enjoyed this, especially the mini-bios on everyone, you can see where you have similarities or connections. Plus looking at other folks' connections gives you new ideas of people to talk to. I thoroughly enjoyed it as a networking site and a place to share a few ideas and comments and questions. I haven't gotten it into my "routine" to check it every day, which I think I eventually would. But I spend a long time there when I am there (when I have free time).

4.3

Used for NASA Business

The data from the pilot supports the notion that NASA knowledge workers will use online social networking for NASA business. Below are use cases of how three NASA knowledge workers used NASAsphere for NASA business. In the case where names are used, each person provided permission for this report, as well as related presentations.

4.3.1 Making and Sharing Connections
Here is a quote from a NASAsphere participant on how he used NASAsphere to connect a colleague to a group doing similar work: One of my colleagues (actually someone I invited into NASAsphere) had a question about VOIP that he posted. He was researching VOIP options and wanted to know what others had done. This is something that he hadn't thought to ask me because he knows I don't work in that area. However, when I saw the question posted, I could point him to a group that is working on it. It helped him get some additional information he wouldn't have gotten otherwise. Although I wasn't comfortable at the time posting my response (still err on the side of caution when there is anything that could even remotely be considered a security violation) I emailed him the information offline. While that doesn't give future readers the same information I gave my colleague, they at least know that I might be able to help them.

4.3.2 Sharing a “day-in-the-life” of a NASA scientist
A young scientist, Kimberly Ennico, working at NASA’s Ames Research Center on the LCROSS mission, connected her Twitter feeds to NASAsphere. Her Tweets gave the NASAsphere participants a real-time view into the "day-in-the-life" of a scientist as she prepped a NASA mission. Figure 15 below is a screen capture of Kimberly Ennico’s Twitter activity, a dairy of shorts of her work on LCROSS, read from inside NASAsphere. The backend product used as the technical foundation for NASAsphere, allowed participants to pull-in external social media services into the NASA environment. This capability to interoperate Web 2.0 social media services provides NASA an easy way to reuse existing content

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published by its knowledge workers on public social media Web sites. Some 28 NASAsphere participants added Twitter services, sharing their 2013 Tweets.

Figure 15. Screen capture of Kimberly Ennico’s Twitter activity, a dairy of her work on LCROSS read from inside NASAsphere.

4.3.3 Asking where to find critical information and data to support a NASA task
David Miranda, a young Engineering Trainee in the IT Mission Support group, Office of the Chief Information Officer at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, needed data so he could create a physics-based simulation of the lunar surface. He posted his question to NASAsphere and received the name of an expert and sources for data. The three people who responded were not from his center--one was a Librarian Technician from Headquarters, one was a Librarian from Goddard Space Flight Center, and the other was a Space Vehicle Systems Engineer from Johnson Space Center. NASAsphere helped connect David to NASA knowledge workers who had the information he needed. A screenshot of David Miranda’s question is found below in Figure 16.

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Figure 16. Screenshot of David Miranda’s question “Where can I find Lunar Terrain Data?” posted on NASAsphere.

4.4

Impact Outside of NASA

NASAsphere received notoriety outside of NASA. The Chief Knowledge Officer of the United States Strategic Command heard about NASAsphere from a blog posting on www.opennasa.com and contacted the pilot manager to find out more about the pilot. The Chief Knowledge Officer publishes a monthly employee newsletter focused on social networking and wrote an article about NASAsphere in a recent publication. Here is the content of the article:
NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab developed a social networking pilot, NASASphere, which initially started with 87 people in May 2008. Excited and energized users quickly invited their peers to join and by July 2008, the pilot grew to 295 active users. The pilot used Socialcast, a commercial social networking software. Users quickly connected to their peers through personal profiles and group lists. Users also were empowered to post and answer questions. More importantly it provided a forum for individuals to share, rate, and comment on ideas with their peers. This helped link silos of expertise by connecting operations in multiple locations. One of the remarkable accomplishments was the ability of pilot users to reach outside their immediate network of "the usual suspects" to get outside opinions and expert advice. 92% of

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questions that were asked through NASASphere, were answered by a user in a different branch in the organization! For more information, contact Celeste Merryman at celeste.merryman@jpl.nasa.gov, 408-752-9956. (Thon & Steinhauser, 2008)

The NASAsphere pilot vendor partner, Socialcast also recognized something special about NASAsphere. Socialcast organizes several pilots for customers annually and was impressed by the content and activity exhibited by the NASAsphere participants. NASA was invited to partner with Socialcast in a conference presentation at the 2008 KM World conference, in the “Innovation Solutions & KM Practices” session to discuss the pilot experiences and findings.

5.

RECOMMENDATIONS

This section is comprised of information collected from the NASAsphere participants, as well as implementation recommendations by the NASAsphere pilot project manager. In addition, openending participant feedback was collected via the NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation and can be found in Appendix C under the Question 20 “thoughts or experiences” and Question 21 “suggestions for the future.”

5.1

Recommendations and Potential Future Use by Participants

This section presents responses by NASAsphere pilot participants to questions related to “recommendations” and future “use” from the NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation (complete findings found in Appendix C).

5.1.1 Recommendations by Participants
Questions were placed on the NASAsphere Participant User Experience Evaluation to gain feedback on recommendations for the future of NASAsphere. They were asked “What do you recommend should happen with NASAsphere?” Twenty-seven (n=27) out of 52 (51.9%) people recommend that NASAsphere be implemented “Agency-wide for civil servants and contractors.” Figure 17 below shows the breakdown of how people responded to the recommendation question. Seventeen (n=17) people placed comments in the “other” textbox. Examples of “other” comments made by participants are shown in Table 8 below. Full-text of responses are found in Appendix C Question 16.

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Figure 17. The NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation responses to the question “What do you recommend should happen with NASAsphere?” Participant comments captured in “other” “It seemed like a copy of Facebook, but why would I use a copy of Facebook, when I can use the original, which is far more user friendly?” “Conduct more studies to evaluate this product” “Do not implement NASAsphere, but make use of existing social networking sites to the widest extent possible.” “I didn't find it useful, so I don't really have an opinion. It seems that some people did find it useful and I'd be willing to support whatever those people want.” “The comments I read were not related to work, but in advocating a future for NASA. For it to be useful, the comments and questions need to be work related.” “Some Social Networking would be very beneficial, whether or not it is NASAsphere. It should be closely tied in to NASA's existing systems to avoid yet another isolated tool.” Table 8. Participant comments captured via the “other” option on recommendation question.

5.1.2 Potential Future Use by Participants
Future use by participants was important to assess in order to determine support levels for any potential future implementation of NASAsphere, or social networking in general. More than half (73.5%) of the responders (n=53) said they would read NASAsphere on a daily or weekly basis. Furthermore, 62% out of 53 people said they would contribute to NASAsphere “daily” or “weekly.” The notion that there are enough NASA knowledge workers interested and supportive of a NASAsphere implementation is supported, based on these findings. In a similar vein, NASAsphere participants were asked to list three things they would use NASAsphere for in the future. A tag cloud analysis was used to get a picture of the responses people listed. Analysis for the top 150 words with three or more occurrences, resulted in the 23

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words found in Figure 18 below. The height of the word indicates the most frequently occurring word. The actual word frequency is found to the right of the word.

Figure 18. Figure XXXX. Tag cloud analysis of the NASAsphere User Experience Evaluation for the question “How would you use NASAsphere in the future?”

Overall, people seemed interested in using NASAsphere for connecting with other NASA knowledge workers to collaborate, to network, to work cross-center or organizations on projects, to ask others questions, and to discuss ideas. To view the full-text, alphabetized list of what responders listed, see Appendix C, question 17 “How would you use NASAsphere in the future?”

5.2

Recommendations to NASA for Implementation

Based on the data from the pilot and feedback from the NASAsphere participants from the NASAsphere participants, the NASAsphere pilot team recommends that NASAsphere be implemented as an “official” employee social networking and communication tool. Statements and endorsements made by participants indicate that an implementation would be supported and used by NASA knowledge workers to ask for and share knowledge to get their jobs done. NASAsphere was well supported by several different organizations and all NASA centers, indicating potential broad use by NASA knowledge workers. A two-phased approach is suggested for NASAsphere to achieve complete implementation that allows NASA employees, on-site contractors, off-site contractor, university affiliates, and other partners to participate. Phase 1 would implement a fully functioning system for NASA employees and contractors with a nasa.gov e-mail domain address, which was the criteria we used for the NASAsphere pilot. Phase 2 would include participant growth to university affiliates and off-site contractors or partners that do not have nasa.gov e-mail domain addresses Currently, in order to collaborate on questions and ideas, NASA employees must utilize public social networking sites to communicate with researchers funded to conduct NASA business. One risk this posses it that public social networking sites are the mercy of the company’s success and if the company goes out of business, so does NASA knowledge. If approved and funded for implementation, a detailed implementation plan is needed. For now, this section includes high-level implementation recommendations and ideas.

5.2.1 Implementation Phase 1
Goals 1. Continue Software as a Service with Socialcast, migration to NASA infrastructure later in the year; 2. Authenticate with NAMS, interoperability with other existing system and/or information to develop robust expertise/knowledge locator; and 3. Allow for 2,000 to 3,000 activated accounts.

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4. Duration - One year to scale up from a pilot. Implementation Management  If implementation is approved, the pilot management team suggests the following: 1. Provide full integration and testing with NAMS for authentication and authorization 2. Create a communications campaign to inform and educate key stakeholders at each Center. 3. Create an informative and ”self-help” Web site focusing on NASAsphere 4. Inform and train the ODIN Help Desk organization 5. Transition NASAsphere to operations Executive Sponsors Successful implementation in the NASA environment would include partnerships between key NASA headquarter organizations, like Human Capital and Office of the Chief Information Officer. It should be noted that during the pilot people from Public Affairs, and specifically the Internal Communications group, participated and showed support for NASAsphere, and so might be considered stakeholder and potentially a partner. The human resource organization in private industry is increasing their role in coordinating, supporting, and managing tools that enable the workforce to share and transfer knowledge. It is suggested that NASA’s Human Capital organization take the lead on implementing and utilizing NASAsphere as an enabling tool for the NASA workforce, notably taking on the human element. Because the Office of the CIO is focused on enterprise architecture and services NASA-wide, it is suggested that the OCIO take the lead on integration, interoperability, security, operations and other technical issues related to NASAsphere and use by NASA knowledge workforce. Improvements Noted The pilot implementation and processes went very smoothly, technically and socially. However, during the pilot participants mentioned, and the pilot manager agrees, there are three of key areas that are important to making NASAsphere more productive for more users. Here is a list of the key areas participants wanted improvement on:

  

One is creating an “advanced” search A way to archive old questions and ideas. The ability for participants to manage their own invitations allowing them to see who they invited and if they accepted.

5.2.2 Implementation Phase 2
Goals 1. Hosted NASA infrastructure; 2. Apply policies and processes for expanded access to include universities, industry, and other contractors working on NASA missions; and 3. Greater than 3,000 activated accounts, if necessary. 4. Duration - Out years past year one. Implementation Management If implementation is approved, the pilot management team suggests it continue NASAsphere management through to NASA operations. The implementation management team suggests the following be completed:

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          Develop Architecture Document consistent with NASA EA and potential hosting environment Develop Detailed Systems Design Document complete with Interfaces Develop Security Design Document Develop Project Implementation Plan Development Transition to Operations Plan Provide Acquisition Support for System, Including Licenses and Professional Services Engagement Develop Test Plans and Procedures Provide Testing Support to Contractor Provide Support to ODIN for Transition Transition to NASA Operations

Executive Sponsors Same as Phase 1, or implement changes based on findings from Phase 1. Improvements Noted Improvements noted from Phase 1 will be reviewed and implemented in Phase 2. Additional features and interfaces will be implemented, as schedule and budget will allow.

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References
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved August 18, 2008, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/generation Baker College, Effective Teaching and Learning Department. (2004). Teaching Across Generations. Baker College, Effective Teaching and Learning Department. Baker College. Deloitte. (2008, June). Deloitte. Retrieved August 18, 2008, from Who Are the Millennials? a.k.a. Generation Y: http://www.deloitte.com/dtt/article/0,1002,sid%253D26551%2526cid%253D120906,00.html Intellipedia. (2008). Retrieved June 26, 2008, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellipedia Ivins, B. (2007, July 31). Press Release - Social Networking Goes Global. Retrieved March 27, 2008, from comScore: http://www.comscore.com/press/release.asp?press=1555 Kash, W. (2007, November 1). Agencies advance use of online social networking tools. Retrieved June 17, 2008, from Government Computer News: http://www.gcn.com/online/vol1_no1/45346-1.html?page=1 McConnell, M. (2007, September 10). Confronting the Terrorist Threat to Homeland: Six Years after 9/11. Retrieved June 26, 2008, from Office of the Director of National Intelligence: http://dni.gov/testimonies/20070910_testimony.pdf NAS Recruitment Communications. (2006). Generation Y: The Millennials. Retrieved August 18, 2008, from www.nasrecruitment.com/talenttips/NASinsights/GenerationY.pdf Pettus, J. Q. (2007). Information Resources Management Strategic Plan. NASA, Office of the Chief INformation Officer. NASA. Sevastopulo, D. (2007). US launches 'Myspace for spies'. Retrieved from http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6e2648ea-5014-11dc-a6b0-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1 Spira, J. B. (2005, June). Time to (re) innovate the office? KMWorld. Thon, S., & Steinhauser, L. (2008, July 29). NASA Social Networking Pilot Generates Significant Interest. The Collaborator: USSTRATCOM Knowledge Management Publication. USSTRATCOM J6K. Wells, A. T. (2008, February 6). A Portrait of Early Internet Adopters: Why People First Went Online -- and Why They Stayed. Retrieved August 18, 2008, from Pew Internet & American Life Project: http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_Early_Adopters.pdf Yan, S. (2006, December 8). Understanding Generation Y. Retrieved August 18, 2008, from The Oberlin Review: http://www.oberlin.edu/stupub/ocreview/2006/12/08/features/Understanding_Generation_Y.html Zyskowski, J. (2008, May 12). Government enters the blogosphere. Retrieved June 17, 2008, from Federal Computer Weekly: http://www.fcw.com/print/22_13/features/152474-1.html

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Appendix A - Socialcast Client Data Security Information
At Socialcast, the security of our clients’ data is of the utmost importance. From the onset we have developed our product with client data security as a top priority. We have worked closely with hardware and software vendors and communities we utilize to ensure that we are employing all the security precautions possible. We have a layered security program and are constantly re‐evaluating our security protocols in order to find areas for improvement. We break security into two main categories:

1. Application Security
• Network Security: All application servers are located behind Cisco ASA firewalls which are configured to limit user access to only protocols and methods as required for the usage of the application service. Credential Encryption: 128‐bit Secure socket layer data encryption is used for all user login sessions. All users' user IDs and passwords are transmitted with encryption. Layered Data Model with Application only access: The application is separated into layers which separate the application from the client data. Everyone who logs into the application only has access to the application layer. Monitoring: On an ongoing daily basis, port scans and network intrusions detection systems are used by our network team to identify any issues or vulnerabilities within our network. Any suspect authorization attempts are logged and investigated immediately. Data Record Management: Data record management and audit trails are maintained within the Socialcast application. We track every data record put into the system by detailed user and time‐stamp. Data Backup: All client data is backed up daily with hourly incremental updates. Backups are stored offsite at our secondary data center location (managed by Rackspace) which is 100 miles from our primary data center.

• •

2. Data Center Security
• • Our data centers utilize both Cisco Guard XT security appliances and Arbor Peakflow to protect our clients’ data and service usage from malicious attacks such as DDoS. Our data centers are physical secured by a number of measures including two factor authentication access barriers (photo id & palm identification systems) as well as 24 by 7 by 365 monitored closed circuit camera surveillance on all entrances, exits, and common areas. Throughout both facilities motion sensitive cameras are utilized as well. Our data centers also utilize 18 inch raised flooring with complete HVAC systems, backup UPSs on all servers and network equipment, and double‐interlocked fire sprinkler protection.

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Appendix B – Postings and Responses from NASAsphere
Participant responses to the question “What are your thoughts on the adoption of social networking in NASA? Is it just for Gen Yers, or can us older folks do it too?”
1. Absolutely, anybody can get into this! I think we focus too much on Gen Y issues as it is - let's just focus on what will make NASA an even better place to work for everybody, regardless of age or generation. I'm excited about this effort, I hope it is successful! 2. I think it's simply a matter of attitude and openness. It's dependent on the person and what they see as the benefits of participating in a social network. The advantage younger people have is that they have grown up with online networks and already see the benefits, others have to learn that first before they want to invest the time to participate. 3. Anyone can do social networking! If you look at facebook and twitter you will find folks of all ages. NASA shouldn't be any different. 4. It is definitely do-able by anyone. The real question is whether or not the older generations would be willing to embrace it as easily. Lots of the older generation are intimidated by things such as online social networking. My parents still think that stuff like Facebook is a scam so that people will steal their identity. 5. Social networking can be for anyone! I think that any way that we can all learn from and with each other is great. All the opportunity for learning and growth is one of the reasons I love working for NASA. 6. I will give a big thumbs up from a gen-Xer! If the idea of social networking is marketed to show its potential value to the individual (and not just more work) then we can win over people of any age demographic. We need to find a way to integrate it into the work flow. Looking for an answer? Try NASASphere. 7. It's a great way to feel connected and to extend and reinforce communities. I don't see it as a generational divide, although that may be relevant, it's more of a stylistic one. The most important factore is usability, if it's not immediately intuitive and in most cases, one click to do what you want, adoption may be low. It would be good if we can get everyone on one tool for the social part, and linking back to other tools such as Sharepoint or NX for file sharing. 8. Great idea. Glad to be part of the team! 9. I agree that the use and acceptance of social networks is not inherently generational. Social networks are a great way to decrease the barriers to entry for content generation, and they allow you to target that content to interested parties. I am all for the democratization of information, and I hope this tool can be used to increase communication and knowledge sharing throughout the Agency. 10. If it's useful and fun, social networking is for anyone in any generation. There are so many possibilities for having this benefit how work is done, and I hope folks start seeing the benefits! 11. I am a Gen X-er myself and I feel like I am turning into a Gen Y-er with all the social networking sites. Since we started NASA EDGE I find myself on the sites very often (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter etc.).

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12. Anyone can do it, but there has to be a good reason to visit a network, or no one will. I have profiles in multiple social networking sites (as I'm sure you all do, too) but I only go to them for very specific reasons, and very rarely, if ever, just to look around. If there's information I need, or some activity going on in the network, then I'm there. I think that this is true for all generations, in NASA and outside of NASA. 13. Us older folks are just that...but many are excited about the opportunity to learn new things and always exploring new ways to enhance communication. I for one am up for it! 14. Similar to the answers below I think anyone can do it they just need to invest a little time like anything new to get acquainted. I'm sure there was probably the same question and concerns when email was first implemented. 15. I agree with Jeanne - you have to be open-minded and adaptive, regardless of age. You just have to want to use it. I do think that some users who are unfamiliar with this sort of interface will benefit from more assistance and information as they learn. We have to make sure that our networks don't assume that users are familiar with Facebook and other sites. 16. Like the others, I don't see this as a generational thing. I know that we send people from one center to another so that they can get a feel for how the whole agency works, & I think that we can do some of that with social networking.One of the things that I'm hoping we can do is make people aware of the huge spread of expertise & information that's scattered through the agency. 17. Of course, I agree with the comments here. I generally think that age is just a number - how you *feel* age-wise translates into how you perceive your surroundings, how you act, what you're willing to take on, etc. If you'll forgive the personal example, my mom is in her late 60's and shops for books online, watches You Tube, still loves Star Trek and Star Wars, and is going to a big geeky convention with me this summer. =) And that same 'ageless' attitude can come into play at work as well - employees of any age can get involved in, enjoy, and benefit from social networking. I do think that an area where Gen Y'ers may play a bigger role is not necessarily 'marketing' this type of tool (we can all play a big role in that, regardless of age), but in how we present and market *ourselves* and our use of this type of tool. I think we have our own set of stereotypes to break out of, and need to make sure that we present this type of thing as a professional tool and not a purely social application. And maybe we all need to help in busting the myths about the tool or application, and not the age of the users. All that being said, I know ALL of us here in the pilot are excited about this, and I'm looking forward to all of us being able to show that this type of tool can be useful, usable, and productive at work. 18. I agree. I think it is about attitude, overcoming fears and not fully understanding usefulness of new tools. If there is something of interest to a person but they are scared to post items they will start to read at least and eventually chime in. It may take some time and hand holding but that is understandable. We should help those who ask for it. 19. To respond to Stephanie Stockman's message, I couldn't agree more, but strongly disagree, too. You're absolutely right, anyone can participate in social networking if they expend a little effort at learning the app. But is NASA any different! Heck yes! NASA employees (and contractors, etc.) should be WAY above the curve! We're the cream of the (electronic) crop, guys! 20. Sorry Stephanie, just using your answer to make a tongue-in-cheek comment there.

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21. I agree with the group... it can be for everyone. I love that my father is on Facebook. He may only log on every so often, but it is another connection point between us... especially when he is living an ocean away in France. At work, it is a way to bridge the generational gap within our teams. How does the PI for a mission connect with the new grad student or Post Doc. This could be the first step... with many positive outcomes as a result. Sure, it takes a bit more convincing... how many sheep do I have to throw at my Project Scientist before he throws one back... 10 and counting... but again, its another connection. 22. Great reading all the comments from everyone. An insight I just had - perhaps social networking tools, like this one, Facebook, etc...are the gap closers between generations. They provide a way for different kinds of people, at different levels of SN knowledge, and provides a platform, to get on the "same page" so to speak. 23. I for one agree and I'd probably be surprised if anyone on this initial pilot project would disagree since we all value social networking enough to do this... it would be interesting though to see what others think about this outside of this group, though I don't know the best way to find that out? 24. It's for everyone who has a desire to use it, I believe. I'm a Baby Boomer who bought the first 128K Mac and have been hooked on technology ever since. As the years go by, however, it's harder to keep up. Some of it is technology advancement, much of it is the different ways that new generations communication and interact. It's just different. Like when telephones and TVs first came out - only more complex, IMHO. So while I try hard, and want, to keep up, understand it's more of a challenge for us old guys, not because we're getting dumber (although I might be, actually) but because of the nature of change. Eventually things and people catch up (the learning curve). In the not too distant future what we are doing now will seem so ... old fashioned. But look forward to aging, guys. Studies show older people are happier! And you know what, I am. 25. Social networking is for everyone. I know people of all different ages who enjoy exploring the internet and using social-networking sites. Everyone can join in the fun! 26. I don't see this as being a generational thing. However, it may take some "encouragement" to get older gen - xers and boomers to open their eyes to the possibilities. 27. With all the work on CONSTELLATION being spread around the Agency to all centers, I think an informal network such as this is FANTASTIC for fostering the sharing of knowledge. I don't see it as being a substitute for formal lanes of communication, bu rather enhancing them. I know there are security concerns around using venues like FaceBook and etc., so a secure internal one sounds like a winner to me.

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Appendix B – Postings and Responses from NASAsphere
Participant responses to the question ”What do you see as the biggest benefit of NASAsphere?”
1. For one, I see NASAsphere as a mechanism for making contact with people I would never meet or interact with otherwise. It's also a means of drawing people into a conversation passively. For instance, if I start a conversation by email, I have to actively select participants (i.e. fill out the "to" line). If, however, I start a conversation on NASAsphere, participants can join in a discussion by themselves. The network of a conversation spreads based on its topic rather than by person-to-person sharing. The former seems less limited than the latter. Here's another example: I just asked a question "What do you know about ARMD?" Answer to that question from people on NASAsphere would definitely help me do my work, and I don't have any other real means for asking that question to a diverse set of people. 2. My argument would be that NASAsphere is an ideal forum for cross-directorate and crosscenter communication and collaboration. This is about building a community that truly embraces the ideals of the "One NASA" concept. 3. Right now, I'd say that this is another way to reach out to different parts of NASA & find out what people are doing. I also see this as another medium, potentially, for providing research assistance-I might not have the resources here, but I can look for someone else to lend a hand. 4. Usability. I find it very easy to navigate around and utilize a large number of features of the site. Much better than other sites of my experience. 5. I agree with Justin- it's getting outside whatever organizational box you may be in. Even within a Center! It's nice to connect with people on content regardless of their position, organization or location.

The research described in this paper was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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