Behind Spacehack: GeekDad Talks to Ariel Waldman

Geek Culture

Ariel WaldmanAriel Waldman
As Ken mentioned the other day:

Spacehack is a fantastic new site, billed as "…a directory of ways to participate in space exploration, interact + connect with the space community and encourage citizen science."

Spacehack is the brainchild of Ariel Waldman, recently named one of the most influential individuals in Silicon Valley. Waldman was previously a program coordinator at NASA CoLab, which connects communities inside and outside NASA to collaborate. She agreed to answer a few GeekDad questions about the new site.

GeekDad: What prompted you to set up Spacehack? Did other lists fall short, or was there just nothing like this at all?

Ariel Waldman: It was an idea that was tossed around between some of my former coworkers at NASA and myself. I was part of the NASA CoLab team, whose goal was to encourage collaboration between the public and NASA, so the idea for Spacehack had a strong foundation in that aim. I don’t know of other lists similar to Spacehack, unfortunately.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

GD: I notice you’re using WordPress for the site and Twitter for communication. Do you have plans for other social media tools?

AW: I’m definitely big on keeping things short and sweet and social. That being said, WordPress was chosen since I personally am not a developer, so my coding skills are limited to CSS, etc. I would definitely like to make the site more robust in tools that make sense for the community as it continues to grow.

GD: There’s a good crop of projects already, including a few
I hadn’t seen before. Do you think there are lots more out there waiting to be discovered?

AW: There definitely are. We already received a handful of project submissions on our launch day! I do hope that this directory will not only encourage more participatory space projects, but also encourage existing ones to embrace the social web more as well.

GD: How "official" is Spacehack? Is there room for projects outside the NASA umbrella?

AW: Spacehack is entirely unofficial and a site I built on a personal whim. NASA and NASA CoLab do not have any official influence on the site. I very much want to see more projects outside the NASA
umbrella grow. Currently, there are projects from SETI and various educational institutions on Spacehack, but I would love to see entities like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic getting more involved.

GD: From what you’ve seen, how much uptake do projects like these get?

AW: I would say they’re more undiscovered gems at the moment, but it’s a very exciting time for space exploration. 2008 has been a year where the public has been exposed to a variety of space news from the emerging private sector and NASA no longer has a monopoly on it. I think a growing number of people are inspired by the demonstrated world-wide tenacity to understand and explore space.

GD: Have you participated in any of these projects yourself?

AW: I’ve supported the NASA Regolith Excavation Challenge
(part of the NASA Centennial Challenges progam) but I have not yet been a participant. I plan to participate in the Stardust@Home cause soon.

(photo by Jeremy Keith)

Liked it? Take a second to support GeekDad and GeekMom on Patreon!