Entries in Facebook (2)


Social media at NASA - Spacebook connects people to problems

Part two of the Tap the Collective Project Profiles...


When the issues that an organization faces cross cut multiple disciplines and resources are tight, efficient collaboration across teams is essential. At NASA, where the problem sets are particularly technical and complex, and talented people are distributed across a wide bureaucracy, this challenge is particularly acute. Faced with hiring freezes, and looking to improve information sharing and collaboration across the agency, this summer NASA launched Spacebook, an internal social network for NASA employees to connect and share expertise.

Like Facebook, the NASA version features profile pages that lists employees' expertise and interests. This is the basic feature that makes finding the right people with the right skills for a project easier than ever before. 

"With the constraints we've had in hiring and our workforce issues, you want to know who knows what, such as experts on batteries or encryption," NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center CIO Linda Cureton writes, "There may be certain skills, abilities and talents that exist throughout the center, and you want to be able to tap into that knowledge to know areas of expertise of people."

But there is much more. Emma Antunes, the Goddard Web Manager is also concerned with ensuring that there's enough initial user-generated content, so the site features a number of forums: a management announcement board, a general discussion group, a place for new employees and an equipment exchange forum, which Antunes called "a Craigslist for equipment."

Like all social media platforms, the challenge is encouraging adoption and active participation. At NASA, the challenges are even greater as the site is encouraging communications and collaboration outside the normal channels of the bureaucratic framework that people are familiar with. The average age of a NASA employee is nearly 50 and resistance may be steep.

Yet Ms. Cureton is committed to the idea that "a culture of engagement and collaboration that makes each individual employee much more effective" and I agree. We're excited to hear next week from Ms. Antunes, Goddard's Web Manager and Spacebook's developer, about the types of problems that this platform is helping to solve at NASA and the opportunities/challenges of implementing social media in a large government bureaucracy.


Facebook to help Uncrunch America?

Following up to our previous entry on Uncrunch America, ReadWriteWeb argues why Facebook should join the campaign to use peer-to-peer lending to help loosen the credit crunch.

Bernard Lunn writes:

"Facebook has 200 million users who have come together because they know each other. That is the basis of trust. And lending is based on trust, a simple fact that got obfuscated by Wall Street's toxic financing vehicles.

Facebook can empower its users in very real ways by connecting them in peer-to-peer financing networks. Facebook does not need to do the heavy lifting of providing peer-to-peer lending -- for example, dealing with all the regulatory issues. It just needs to do what it does best: leverage the social graph."

I agree with the sentiment of commenter Clay: Facebook itself doesn't need to get involved, but a third party developer could build a great app to connect Facebook users to the p2p lending community.