Archiving NASA's social media

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
March 21 2010 8:36 AM

Archiving NASA's social media

NASA logoI sometimes make fun of NASA for being a bit stodgy, but in truth a lot of the folks there are pretty savvy when it comes to new tech and social media. The Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity were on Facebook pretty quickly, and a flood of other space probes followed suit. Twitter is well-populated by NASA people, including astronaut Soichi Noguchi, who has been tweeting tirelessly from orbit recently, posting one amazing picture after another of cities, landscapes, and even the Moon.

One thing NASA is careful about is archiving material. They are well aware of the importance of the work they're doing, and public outreach is a critical aspect of it. That's why I'm happy to see a new effort on the part of the space agency to archive all their social media outlets.

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It's just started, so it's a bit sparse, but I can see this being very useful to future historians. It may seem silly to have an online record of all the official tweets from NASA people, but in fact there is a wealth of information there. And it's not just Twitter; it's also Flickr for pictures, and YouTube for videos. I can see this expanding to Facebook, too, and other social networks. There's a brief intro to the archive on the NASA images blog as well.

NASA does a pretty decent job of being transparent to its stakeholders -- that's you, folks -- far better than most other government agencies, despite being online in far larger proportion than them as well. And I know that I'll be able to use this archive for blogging; it'll make linking to NASA efforts a whole lot easier. Not only that, but I found a couple of new Twitter streams form NASA I'm interested in, too! So take a look at the archive and dig around. I just bet you'll find something cool there.

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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