Web 2.0 and Blogging: Getting 2 Know U

Web 2.0 and Blogging: Getting 2 Know U


I just returned from a leadership retreat with my team.  Our ice breaker activity on the first day was to draw names and write a limerick about our team member.  It was hysterical.  We had fun, we were creative, and we used the art form of poetry to get to know each other.  Certainly poetry is an amazing art form that reaches out and communicates in a special way.


I’ve watched with amusement the discussion of the efficacy and propriety of blogging and other Web 2.0 technologies by government CIOs.  When I started, I wasn’t really sure how it would go; how much time it would take; and if there was any value.  Then, OMG, something unexpected happened.


I’m really clear about my leadership vision as the CIO of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.  We are an amazing culture of creativity and innovation that needs to maintain its competitive edge through an IT strategy that:


  • manages technological diversity;
  • provides a secure infrastructure;
  • promotes collaboration and sharing;
  • nurtures and evolves a delightful IT workforce; and
  • does all of this via an effective IT governance.


Oh, to be a mainframe IBM VM systems programmer again, where my dump-reading and problem determination skills carried the day. With this gig, my leadership effectiveness is essential. 


Warren Blank writes in “The Nine Natural Laws of Leadership”:


“ … [Leaders must] build solid work relationships with others.  The quality of relationships you have with others is central to leadership.  Others are more likely to follow when you step forward to lead if they know you and trust you.”


Getting people to know me is critical for this leadership vision and is more difficult for this extremely introverted CIO than hexadecimal arithmetic.  Then along comes Web 2.0: blogging, and facebook, and twitter … oh, my! I am now the transparent CIO … What am I thinking? What am I like? Can you trust me?  Certainly these are amazing technologies that will help government leaders communicate in a very special way.


So, here’s one of the limericks that one of my leaders wrote about me.


There once was a fearless CIO

Whose vision was worrisome – Oh!

            Her CIO-lettes

            Became her best bets

To spread that view of the whole


Poetry and technology, humm.  Two more colors on the palette of the change leadership artist.


Linda Y. Cureton



The Application of Technology: But Girls,It Still Works!

The Application of Technology: But Girls, It Still Works!


In 1977, I launched from high school graduating in the first class of Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC ? boldly going where no DC Public School had gone before.  That same year, the Voyager Spacecrafts launched.


Today, the magnetometers on Voyager 1, built by NASA?s Goddard Space Flight Center, continue to observe and provide new insight into conditions at the outer edges of our solar system.  Though the Voyagers? original missions were to Jupiter and Saturn, they could still provide data for astounding discoveries until 2020.  Of course Star Trek fans know that Voyager could still continue far after that!


1968 A New Color Television


The Application of Technology: But Girls, It Still Works!In 1968, my grandparents, won their first color television.  This granddaughter was so happy.  Now I could see one my favorite television programs in color.  By the way, one of my favorites was I Dream of Jeannie ? which later inspired this dreamy mathematician to want to work for NASA. 


My grandfather, Daddy Carl, who always liked new technology, decided to build his own color television with a kit ? so that he could better understand how it worked and how to use it.  My grandmother, Mama, didn?t want to wait and purchased a raffle ticket.  Daddy Carl always liked to build new things; Mama always liked to use new things.  Many seasons have passed, and they are in their nineties.  My sister and I were cleaning old things out of their home.  We ran across this television set.  As experienced granddaughters, we snuck it out the house to the trash pile.  The next thing we knew, he returns from outside carrying the television with an incredulous look on his face ? ?But, girls, it still works!? he said with his British-West Indian accent. 


2008 A New Navigation System


Daddy Carl, who was taught to use a car by my grandmother, is facing the possibility of driving to a hospital in Baltimore to tend to Mama.  So, he brought a navigation system. Finally, he was frustrated about the difficulty he had been having in using it, true to form, he said, ?I should have built it myself!?  Later, true to form, Mama pulled me close to her and asked, ?Baby, has he figured out how to use it yet?? 


Over thirty years after my launch from high school, and through my journey through the solar system of college, life, and now, a CIO, I?m amazed that I have come to a learning moment that is intersected by my grandparents and Voyager.


Linda Y. Cureton


Update — But Girls,It Still Works! AND Speaking in Terms the Mission Understands

Update — But Girls, It Still Works! AND Speaking in Terms the Mission Understands


My last two posts were about my grandfather’s technology woes with his navigation system and communicating in “mission-speak”.  Current events warrant an update. 


This CIO granddaughter got the navigation system to work.  Daddy Carl was a happy user.  The problem was that there was no language selected.  Just selecting English did the trick.  So, to extend customer fulfillment and delight, I went a step further.  I mentioned in earlier post that my grandfather had a British-West Indian accent.  So, I changed the voice to a male with a British accent. 


My grandfather was so happy and he exclaimed, “Now, I can even *understand* what it’s saying!!!”


Mission-Speak in the right accent.  As the Verizon flea would say, “WOW!”



Linda Y. Cureton

Technology Anytime,Anyplace,Anywhere: A Network That Doesn?t Depend on a Single Power Cord

Technology Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere: A Network That Doesn?t Depend on a Single Power Cord


This week, I am in Chicago attending the NASA Integrated Services Network (NISN) Forum.  Amid discussions of bandwidth, jitter, reliability, and availability, I thought about the staff meeting I had earlier this week. My ops guy Joe was there.   He was smiling.  As you know, ops people never smile.  Something has crashed, is about to crash, or might crash ? always.  So, being worried about his mental health, I asked him why he was smiling.  He said things were going very well and he was happy. 


I was cruising with my husband and my family.  I do like to cruise.  When I went on my first cruise almost 10 years ago, I liked the isolation.  No news, new email, nothing.  But, here lately my favorite cruise line implemented a wireless network on board.  Ooh, access to everything, even in the middle of an ocean.  So, last year, I checked my email, misguided soul that I am.  I had an email from my boss.  He was on a rant about the email issues du jour.  I replied back, ?Ed, I?m sorry about the problems, but I can?t do much as I am somewhere in the middle of the Caribbean.  I have absolutely no clue where.?  Well, Ed thought that was funny.  I?ll put aside any observations of his wry sense of humor, but he was tickled that I was reading email at some unknown latitude and longitude.  It really wasn?t funny.


I am pictured here on my last cruise.  Goddard CIO in St. Thomas holding blackberry while talking on cellphoneMy anniversary in fact; 16 wonderful years with a retired ops guy.  I am in St. Thomas and am downright giddy because both my blackberry AND cell phone worked!!!  At last, I am the connected CIO again.  Life was good. What a great vacation.  I?ve convinced myself that I?m not really obsessed.  I?m used to being connected ? all the time, anywhere I go, globally.   And as the NASA Goddard CIO, and in the backdrop of this NISN Forum, we are connected anywhere in the solar system or even the universe. 


I heard a talk at the Department of Energy CIO Conference from one of my predecessors —  Linda Wilbanks, now the CIO of National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).  In her talk, IT Toys, she discussed the outcomes of always connected employees.  They are constantly juggling, have no downtime, and are in constant communication.  This drives us to become dangerous drivers who text while driving and desperate and overworked people always in search of communication signals. Some may argue that being always connected is not a healthy thing, but as service providers, we need to understand that consumers and customers have the expectation of being always connected.  Anywhere, anytime.  


This week, I heard about no jitter, no packet drops, good throughput, high availability ? oh, and low cost and highly secure.  No wonder Joe never smiles.  He knows what we do is important ? businesses, customers, consumers, and CIOs expect it and lives depend on it.