Space Is Not Friendly to Myopic Idiots

"You don't get to go live on the space station because you're a myopic idiot. So you don't need to treat the people that are speaking on behalf of the program as if their myopia and inherent idoacy will constantly cause them to say bad things."

Successful communication of your ideas can be just as important as the idea itself.

There is a stereotype that scientifically inclined people have communication problems. Scientists are seen as folks that can only speak with other scientists, either because they lack the basic communication skills or because they view themselves as above other non-scientific people. I've definitely seen both cases of this, but it's a small minority. Part of the mission of this blog is to eliminate this stereotype.

The above quote about myopic idiots by Chris Hadfield, former International Space Shuttle (ISS) Commander, speaks to the importance of opening our space research to all. The scientists and others involved with getting machinery and humans into space and back again should be trusted to share the awesomeness with others.  Astronauts in particular are trained to do incredible things - why not share it to as many people as possible? 

It's so funny to see Hadfield participate in a video chat from Earth. He's been a prolific fixture in audio and video chats during his time in space, so I'm used to seeing him in a spacesuit.  Check out the Google+ hangout below where Hadfield speaks about the space program and the need to be open and communicate the value of NASA and other government organizations.

 

Rainbows, Butts, and Science with The Stepsisters

I was a guest on The Stepsisters last night.  The StepSisters is a collaborative blog by Rae of , Shai of Eva of , and Tanisha of  (shown below).

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We talked about my Black Weblog Awards nomination (vote here!) , the awesomeness of science, and rainbows coming out of peoples's butts. Check it out!

 

Other guests on the show include Erika from Your Chic is Showing, Taya Dunn Johnson from MrsTDJ.com, and Fleur & Elphie from Witches Brew.  Check out the full video below!

 

In the Realtime Web, Old Can Be Awesome

Old News - canon rebel t2i

In this world of realtime information when things are deemend "old" after hours or even minutes, if we miss something as soon as it drops it can get lost forever. There's so many awesome science things happening on the internet that it's almost impossible to keep up with everything.  I love when I find out something that may be days, months, or even years in the past but still awesome. This is one of those times, thanks to the twitter stream from @omaflinger.

Scientists are just normal folk following their passion like anyone else, and the blog The Protein Strangler had several scientists discuss this in a blog series entitled Meet a Scientist. This resulted in two great videos . The first is 3 minute collection of tweets from the #IAmScience Twitter hashtag. On Jan 27, 2012, people tweeted about why they became scientists - check it out! 

The second, much longer video (30 minutes) is from a film "I'm a Scientist" that delves a bit deeper into why scientists do what they do. This video was uploaded to YouTube on Sept 16, 2011 - an eternity in terms of the realtime web.  But still great!

These old videos were included on a Protein Strangler post from Jan 2012. I'm sure there's other awesome things that I've missed over the years. Don't only depend on the latest news and links because you'll miss out on some jewels!

An Awesome Poster on Social Media for Space

One of my space geek Facebook friends has recently taken it to the next level. Remco Timmerman put together a poster on social media and the space industry. If my tons of NASA posts haven't let you know already, social media has played a huge impact in furthering the public impact of space research.

Remco's poster,  "Social Media for Space",  was presented at the International Space University ISU alumni weekend poster session last weekend. According to the ISU Facebook page, "ISU provides an interdisciplinary education in the context of an intercultural and international environment to support the development of future leaders." They always have a great YouTube channel chock full of space stuff.

Check out the poster below. A higher res version is available for download here. 

 

Tech Tips: @Anjuan @BrothaTech @TatianaKing

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Tech evangelist BrothaTech recently appeared in a YouTube interview with technology translator Anjuan Simmons.  Both are men of color within the technology space that I highly respect and it's great to see them collaborating on a project. While I have yet to meet Anjuan in person, we've interacted on a variety of social platforms such as Google+ about highly intellectual topics such as the power of Mountain Dew. I ran into BrothaTech at last year's Blogging While Brown convention. He's also known for having some of the most adorable kids on the planet. 

Check out Anjuan and BrothaTech in the video below! In BrothaTech's words: "Just a few of our subjects included where my tech interest came from, diversity in technology, my “BrothaTech” brand, iOS 7, my family, and the XBox One versus the PS4."

Anjuan has a series of other videos on his website with other luminaries within the tech space - here is one with Tatiana King, creator of Love At 1st Byte. Tatiana is my go-to resource for coverage via twitter during live events. Check out the interview with Anjuan and Tatiana below!

Check them out and let them know that Shareef sent you!

Send Your Clones to Conferences Far and Wide

Clone troops B&W

During the weekend of June 21st, two conferences occurred - Blogging While Brown in Harlem, NY and Netroots Nation in San Jose, CA. These are both conferences that cover issues that I am interested in, and I wish I could clone myself and go to both!

 I selected Blogging While Brown, but unfortunately I had to cancel due to a business obligation.  So here I was - two conferences going on and I wasn't able to go to either.  I was pretty pissed. The only solution was to use Twitter to follow the conference and essentially clone myself so that I could be in three places at the same time.

Technology to the rescue!  I used Tweetdeck  to watch both hashtags from the conference (#BWBNYC and #NN13). I also made sure to set up a separate filter for each hashtag and the word "question". This enabled me to watch for questions that people asked (so I could ask follow up questions), as well as find when questions were being thrown out to Twitter community to answer.  

I was able to interact with conference attendees so often that some people actually thought I was at the conference! My little Shareef clones attended the conferences and people actually mistook them for me! Check out the following tweets.

Good luck with cloning yourself and attending conferences from afar!

3D Printing: Making Prosthetics at Home

3D printers from companies like Makerbot are helping to bring home the dream of printing our own 3D objects. They currently are out of range for most consumers at about $2000, but this price will come down in a matter of time.  Unfortunately, this amazing technology only makes the news when it is used negatively, like printing guns to make political points. 

NPR has a positive story about using 3D printing technology to help children born without hands.  The video below shows a cute example of the final result.

 

Richard Van As, a carpenter who mangled his hand in a work accident, and Ivan Owen, a creator of bendable puppet hands, put their minds together to create a crude version of a mechanical hand prosthetic. After that, the article states:

He emailed MakerBot, a firm that makes 3-D printing equipment, to see if the company would help out. It did, offering both Owen and Van As a free 3-D printer. "Then there was no stopping us," Van As says.
What had previously taken the pair a week's time or more — milling finger pieces, adjusting and tweaking parts — now took 20 minutes to redesign, print and test.

They posted the design and instructions for Robohand on Thingiverse, a website for sharing digital designs. Anyone can download the plans and — with a 3-D printer and about $150 in parts — make a hand.

Thingiverse is a great example of using a social networking site to spread innovative ideas across the world. Props to Makerbot for giving the duo a free $2000 printer to help realize the dream. Such positive uses of technology should be celebrated and given as much news as negative ones. Especially since we're going to all need 3D printers once light sabers become all the rage, as shown in the video below.

 

This post also appears on TWIB.

Smithsonian #TimeNav: Back Seat Drivers

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The Smithsonian National Air and Space museum is unveiling a new exhibit entitled Time & Navigation: The Untold Story of Getting From Here to There. The exhibit will focus on navigators - the folks that served as the back seat drivers for many famous pilots, drivers, captains, and others. Exhibits from famous names such as sea Captain Charles Wilkes and pilot Charles Lindbergh will be featured, as well as Mariner 10, the first spacecraft to reach Mercury.

An excerpt from the Smithsonian blog reads as follows:

Today, the navigator as a crew member has largely disappeared from most commercial and military long-distance operations, replaced by microprocessors in the form of GPS and inertial navigation systems, but from the 1930s to the 1980s, the navigator was an essential crewmember on many long-distance commercial and military flights.

Be sure to follow my on Twitter (@ShareefJackson) as I will be live tweeting the media preview this morning from 9am - 11am EST. I'll be using the hashtag #TimeNav. 

The exhibit will open to the public on Friday, April 12th - make sure to check it out next time you're in DC!

Houston, We Have A Shareef

I'm in Houston, and I'll be reporting live from another one of my favorite events - NASA socialAs usual, I'll be tweeting from @ShareefJackson using the #NASASocial hashtag - check it out!  I'll bring the latest news even though I'm surrounded by the wonders of Whataburgers and various BBQ places. I even drove past a place named Hot Biscuit ... hmmm ...

This time, I'll get to speak with the crew of Expedition 36, who will be heading up the International Space Station in May of 2013 via the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Image above: Pictured on the front row are Expedition 36 Commander Pavel Vinogradov (left) and Flight Engineer Fyodor Yurchikhin. Pictured from the left (back row) are Flight Engineers Alexander Misurkin, Chris Cassidy, Luca Parmitano and Karen Nyberg. Photo credit: NASA

Image above: Pictured on the front row are Expedition 36 Commander Pavel Vinogradov (left) and Flight Engineer Fyodor Yurchikhin. Pictured from the left (back row) are Flight Engineers Alexander Misurkin, Chris Cassidy, Luca Parmitano and Karen Nyberg. Photo credit: NASA

I'll also get a behind the scenes view of Johnson Space Center, including Mission Control and the Robonaut lab. There are autonomous robots that help NASA with many tasks, including one on the space station itself!

Robonaut ISS Checkout

Mission Control is where they coordinate flights once they have been launched, and of course we all know "Houston, We Have A Problem"

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for the latest updates!

CES 2013 Wrap Up Video & Tweets

Last week, I attended the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas. Below is a video of some footage that I took on the floor. Unfortunately, my microphone adapter broke so I was not able to hold any interviews - gotta get that fixed for next year!

If you can't see the video below, click here.

Also, I've embedded a list of Tweets that I shared if you weren't following the action last week. Check it out! If you can't see the tweets below, click here.

Tech & Politics: Melissa Harris-Perry

Many TV shows are using Facebook and Twitter to further engage their audience. One great example is the Melissa Harris-Perry show, which airs 10am - 12pm on MSNBC on Saturdays and Sundays. The political show is very active on Twitter with its own hashtag #nerdland. Also, video of the show is available on the website soon after it airs - and it's iPad friendly!

She recently had a fantastic section on technology and how it's affected the political process. The panel talks about a recent Federal Elections Committee decision to allow donating to political campaigns via text message, the fact that women only account for 24% of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) jobs, and the wonderful organization Black Girls Code by Kimberly Bryant. Please support their Summer of Code fundraiser, which has a goal of teaching computer programming to more than 300 boys and girls from underrepresented communities, in 90 days, in more than 7 cities across the United States.

Check out the video of the and fantastic discussions below!



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Twitter Impact: From Academia to the Everyday Citizen

 

 

Twitter has made a huge impact among the academic field as well as the everyday citizen. A recent study from UCLA and Hewlett-Packard mentioned that the most well received tweets come from the Twitter accounts of established websites (i.e. New York Times, CNN, etc) discussing popular companies or institutions. The term "social networking" tends to imply that getting news from a friend, regardless of the inclusion of a source, would resonate the same as hearing it from an established site. According to this study, that's not the case.

When I come across a friend mentioning a story, I'll reply or retweet him or her to give proper credit. In addition, I always make sure to retweet the story from a recognized source  It's not because I don't trust the person who originally mentioned the story. It's more that I don't expect my followers to know (or trust) that person. Retweeting the story as reported from a respected source helps to keep my credibility with my followers that or may not know anything about my other followers.

Beyond academia, Twitter has also affected govermnents and its citizens. Sweden has been handing its official @Sweden Twitter account to a different citizen every week. Naturally, some gaffes have occurred. But check out how they've handled it:

From the NY Times on Sunday:

 

“I wanted to show that I’m often kind of immature and often kind of stupid and so is this country, and I bet you are, too, and so are a lot of people around the world,” Mr. Werner, 23, said in a telephone interview. “It’s much more interesting than saying things like, ‘Look at these fabulous pictures of nature.’ ”

 

An update to the NY Times story on Tuesday shows that Sweden is not deleting any tweet that may be offensive. Instead, Sweden is using the opportunity as a teachable moment.  After one of the Swedish twitter users, Ms. Abrahamsson, faced backlash for posting a tweet that offended people of Jewish decent, the following exchange occured:

 

The immediate backlash against her comments prompted Ms. Abrahamsson less than an hour later to write that, being from rural Sweden, she did not know many Jews and she apologized “if some of you find the question offensive.”

“Thats was not my purpose,” she added, appearing to explain herself. “I just don’t get why some people hates jews so much.”

 

Boom! Now that's how you handle controversy - embrace it head on and try to learn from it.  This is the only way to bring technology forward because controversy is inevitable. Congratulations to Sweden for taking this project on!

Tech Networking: Science Bloggers, Tweeters, and Writers

 

 

I'm happy to say that I've been included in Scientific American's list of African American Science Bloggers, Tweeters, and Writers. I'm honored to be included on a list of amazing folk like Dr. Ainissa Ramirez and the Spelman Robotics team. I encourage everyone to use this list as a way to network with different people in the social space that are fighting the good fight to spread news about science throughout the internet. Thank you DNLee and the Urban Scientist blog, and be sure to check out the rest of the folks on the list!

Conference Tech Lessons: Blogging While Brown 2012

Meeting people like the amazing Adria Richards is a plus for conferences. She approved of my C:\ shirt!

 

I came away from this weekend's Blogging While Brown conference inspired and willing to invest in myself to make this blog the best that it can be.   In the midst of this conference, I came away with several thoughts regarding technology.

Personal Interaction >>>> Virtual Interaction

One of the benefits of a conference is meeting people that you've only corresponded with online. The in person meeting makes a world of difference.   My online persona is a representation of me, but the in-person meeting is just as, if not more important. It must be apparent that your online persona is an extension of your personality, not something totally different.  Otherwise, you can come off as disingenuous and playing a role on the internet that is not real.  Personal connection matters.  You know that excitement when someone like Dr. Goddess, Luvvie Ajayi, or Slim Jackson interacts with you online? Yeah, that's magnified by a thousand when it's in person.

Technology is a Great Conversation Starter

When you're around people that are more successful than you and you're the new face in the room, it can sometimes be hard to approach people.  I was able to start a lot of conversations with talk about gadgets - cell phones, tablets, or my infamous gadget sandwich.   Nearly everyone was on some sort of device - engage people about them.

You NEED an Extended Charging Solution

In this era of social networking, you need access to a cell phone during an entire conference, which can sometimes last 10 hours or more, plus dinner, drinks, etc.  Having an extended battery for your phone is key. Fellow attendee BrothaTech had a several charging solutions for his gadgets. I've been using the uNU Power DX extended battery for my iPhone, and I never had my phone drop out.  Perfect for twitpics of people after they are ... a bit inebriated.

I had a great time at the conference, and I will definitely be attending next year!

 

Pinning All Over the World

I love Pinterest. it's a completely visual social networking tool where people post photos that they've taken or that link to other websites. But to me the links and comments aren't important. I like to jump on, browse the photos, and like / reshare (called repin) cool pictures, and jump out. This usually takes around 5 minutes or so. The elegant web design arranges everything is a grid and is very easy on the eyes.

Pinterest also allows you to follow only certain categories, called boards, that a user creates. So if someone is posting about ugly shirts, I can unfollow just that category and still have access to the other pictures from the user.

Then my man Pierre showed up. He began following me and I fell in love with his old school tech pics. The I went to his profile page and saw that it's completely in another language! If this was another network, the language barrier would have effectively prohibited us from easily connecting on the site.

Pinterest is not the first site to offer this visual view. Instagram comes to mind, but it's limited to iOS devices and the site design isn't nearly as good. And Flickr is a little dated and more suited to serious photography.

If you haven't been pinning, get to it! Follow me at Pinterest.com/shareefjackson

Space Networking: My Experience with NASA

Photographers line up to get a shot of the final shuttle launch

Greetings from outer space, nerds! Wait, how can I call you nerds if I'm a bigger alien nerd that found his way to Earth? Hmm ...

I wrote an article for MediaTapper about my experiences with NASA's social networking community, as well as my experience viewing the final shuttle launch of the space program. Here's a sample:

NASA continues its excellent leveraging of social networking platforms by recently launching a Google+ page. NASA’s Twitter account has proven very popular to space geeks such as myself and others. We are connected on various social networks such as Google+, Facebook and Twitter, and the information flows freely. There are people that clearly know more than me, but not once have I felt talked down to. It’s truly an example of how technology can help to bring like-minded people together.

To read more, please click here.

 

What's In a Name?

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    I've maintained several website personas over the years, but eventually as I got older, I decided to start using my real name online. Now why would I do this? To control my message.

    More and more interactions occurr online, and tying those interactions to my real life persona is crucial for networking. I like to be able to say that my website, Twitter account, and other social networks are united under my name. It adds a sense of legitimacy and it also makes me accountable to what I'm putting out their online.

    By publishing my content under my name, I'm also owning my search results. If you do a Google search on my name, you'll get content that I've created. Because it's not limited to just my professional work, it makes me a well-rounded person and shows that I am more than my resume. Of course there's that one MySpace model who also shares my name, but hey, that's just one result :)

    Jeff Jarvis has recently written a book, Public Parts, that talks about this concept. He believes that embracing publicness is a strong asset in this Internet connected world. It helps us maintain what we really want to be private because the public information will dominate any search results, leaving the private information as secured as it can be. It's never 100% secure - if someone wants your information, they'll get it - but by embracing a public persona, this means that you can control it to the best of your ability.

    It might be weird, and it's definitely not for everyone, but try using your name a little more on the Internet. You might be surprised at the results. I mean, y'all love me right?

     

Google+ and Twitter: A Month In

 

Every time I leave Google+ and duck back into the Twitterverse, I get frustrated at a few things:

1) Lack of stickiness. It is way too easy to miss posts. I have a bunch of Twitter lists that help, but I still end up doing a lot of scrolling. Messages that can fit in what G+ message are only broken up into dozens of tweets, filling my stream. This also has the opposite effect - if I tweet, I usually get all of the responses that I'm going to get within an hour or so. My G+ posts get responses, likes, and shares days after I post them.

2) Spammers. I'm sure G+ will get its fair share of spammers and bots, but I haven't seen any yet. I hate when i get an @ reply based on one of my posts matching some random bot algorithm.

3) Lack of visualization. Twitter's stream of text is beginning to look boring. I really, really love how visual G+ is, with pics and videos (yes, and animated Gifs) right in the browser.

These are issues that I learned to deal with before Google+, mainly because Twitter is so much better than alternatives like Facebook when it comes to having a conversation. But now, they stick out like a sore thumb.