Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Gen Y, NASA, and Viral Networking

So I put together the following reading...

...Along with my regular work of doing tech writing for NASA, and I produced the following analysis:

The first link (a 60-slide PPT briefing) points out that Al Qaeda is more of a viral, networked phenomenon rather than a top-down, bureaucratic army; however, that is how our analysts portray it because that’s what our analyzing agencies (CIA, DoD, etc.) are.

In much the same way, I think the command-based thinking of the previous generations is having a hard time coping with the much more networked and informal thinking of Generation Y. Rather than looking for leadership, they might just be looking for a cause, which is a much different issue. The problem, of course, is this: NASA still wants to be the central clearing house (i.e. leader) of all things space-related, and they think they can mold the next generation into that line of thinking rather than allow them to take what they want and go create or run with their own ideas.

No, this does NOT mean that I think space advocates should operate like terrorists. It DOES mean that terrorism has spread virally, much like an internet-based targeted marketing campaign. And if the bad guys can use this process, so can the good guys. At least one would like to hope. Technology can be value-neutral, but its uses are not. Do I think NASA could use a "viral" approach to building a constituency? Quite frankly, I'm doubtful, but stranger things have happened. I'll have to talk to my more net-savvy peers before I share this line of reasoning elsewhere.

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