Plagiarism exposed: someone else came up with the phrase ‘blogging is the ultimate exercise in narcissism’ so I can’t claim original credit for it. My own view is that to be an interesting blogger you must have exhibitionist tendencies.
After a year and a half of intermittent writing on the NASA blog page, I think it’s time to make a few observations about the process.
Blogging is not my foremost work assignment; I really have a full plate of other things to do. Blogging is sort of a sidelight for me, and my blog is mostly written outside normal work hours.
Early in my post-shuttle career, I had a young social-media savvy technical assistant who proposed the idea that I should have a NASA blog; he coordinated all the set up. Don’t blame the NASA PAO or IT departments for me taking up electronic real estate, it was our own idea.
But I’ve really grown to like doing it. You psych majors can comment on my subconscious motivations.
Let me make the following very clear: I have never been told what to blog about. Nobody writes my blog but me. I’m responsible for the content, spelling, fact checking, and any errors that appear. I’ve never been told to delete or censor or remove anything from my blog. Nor is there a list of topics, or any strategic communications plan guides me in writing the blog. Even though I have frequently asked for feedback from my bosses, all I ever get is a thumbs up. So I feel pretty free to write about anything that is on my mind, trying to keep common sense about it. But I put my name on it and I stand behind it. I never post anonymously nor will I comment on somebody else’s blog anonymously.
So don’t confuse my blog with official NASA policy. I’m just one guy here and you are getting this one guy’s take on things. Plus some mostly true old guy stories about things that may or may not have really happened during my career. Hopefully entertaining, but at least giving some insight into how things work inside NASA.
I have read other blogs that are clearly written by public relations flacks and those blogs are obvious advertisements or press releases dressed up to look like a blog. I wouldn’t be a party to that sort of a blog.
I have to approve your comments before they show up in public. That clearly dampens discussion but I believe it is necessary for reasons I’ll explain in a minute. Since blogging is not my full time job, I generally log in about once a day and approve the comments; sometimes – especially when I’m travelling – it is less often. Sorry, but that is why your comments take a while to get posted.
When you write a comment, I automatically get it in an email. I generally read these first on my blackberry; but the bb does not have the capability to log into our blogging software and allow me to approve the comments for posting – I must get my real computer booted up, logged on, etc., to do that. One interesting feature of the software is that emails announcing your blog comment show to me (and me only) your email address. So if you really want to remain anonymous from me, you might keep that in mind. I rarely write to folks on their email, but do so occasionally.
The number one reason I don’t post comments is that many of them are spam. Somebody with a foreign email address comments “Really liked your post. I need to move money to my relatives in the US. Please log onto this web site and put your bank account number and I will send $5 million to you”. Yeah, right. Or “Buy cheap pharmaceuticals at xxx.com”. Nope, I’m not about to let the comments to an agency website blog become a host for fraudulent – or even legitimate – business advertisement. If your comment including the “signature” contains a website or email address, I will not post your comment. The software the NASA website uses does not allow me to edit comments, so I either have to approve them entirely or they don’t get posted. Spammers will not get posted.
I will not post comments on UFOs, conspiracy theories, perpetual motion, or other crackpot topics. Nor will I post comments that are obscene, comments that advocate violence, or comments that cross over to pure disrespect. I’m the sole judge of these on my blog.
I have a strong obligation to post comments that I disagree with. I will even allow people to call me (but only me) names. I got a real zinger the other day and I’m still smarting over it, but you can find it posted. It’s a free country, everybody is entitled to their option.
What I’d like to do is provide some small window into how things work at NASA, what has happened in my career, and what I’ve learned along the way. I don’t have all the answers, I don’t make agency policy, nor am I a management consultant. I have made more than my share of mistakes, but hopefully I’ve learned from them and make fewer now than in my earlier days.
I hope you find my blog interesting. Now that I’ve started, it is hard to keep quiet.
More to come.