Spacebook launches at NASA Goddard

Facebook substitute provides internal social media

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has developed a homegrown social-networking application that provides all NASA employees with the type of features found in Facebook but in a secure environment.

Spacebook, which offers user profiles, group collaboration tools and social bookmarking, is available through NASA’s intranet, said Linda Cureton, Goddard’s chief information officer, who announced the launch — appropriately enough — on her blog.

CIOs are eager to take advantage of the collaboration technologies available through commercial social-networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, but they have valid security concerns, Cureton wrote. “Launching capabilities like this on internal networks reduces those barriers of entry.”

Brittany Ballenstedt, writing on NextGov's Wired Workplace blog, said NASA is making a transition from the space shuttle program to the new Constellation program, which includes programs for a return of manned spaceflight to the moon and possibly Mars or beyond. Agency and contractor workforces are involved in the shift, and Spacebook could help with that, she wrote.

"We'll see if Spacebook takes off at the other NASA centers, such as Kennedy Space Center, which stands to be the most impacted by the transition to Constellation," Ballenstedt wrote. "Cureton says Kennedy and Ames Research Center are currently piloting Spacebook. It'll be interesting to see if and how NASA executives use the social network as another strategy to communicate with employees and usher the transition in. " 

NASA’s Ames Research Center and Kennedy Space Center have developed their own social-networking applications based on SharePoint, Cureton said. At some point, the agency might integrate those with Spacebook.

“One of the most amazing things about these Web 2.0 technologies, and the greatest value to NASA, is the ability to help us create a culture of engagement and collaboration that makes each individual employee much more effective,” Cureton writes.

About the Author

John Monroe is Senior Events Editor for the 1105 Public Sector Media Group, where he is responsible for overseeing the development of content for print and online content, as well as events. John has more than 20 years of experience covering the information technology field. Most recently he served as Editor-in-Chief of Federal Computer Week. Previously, he served as editor of three sister publications: civic.com, which covered the state and local government IT market, Government Health IT, and Defense Systems.

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