Archive for category Twitter

Translation help

The Air Force Space & Missile Museum where I volunteer  is testing out a new translation feature for its website, but we could use your help.
“We’ve added a translator widget to the museum web site that does instantaneous translations between most popular languages of the world. The actual widget code that’s added to the web site is tiny. What the widget does is present a small box and then passes the entire viewing page to a large Microsoft-owned translator. The result is the page changes form into the language selected by the viewer. Many of our web site visitors are from foreign countries and having a translation capability could generate even more interest in the site. How you can help: 

1. Go to the museum web site www.afspacemuseum.org

2. Scroll to the bottom of the home page (or any page, for that matter)

3. See the translator widget in the bottom right corner

4. Select a language from the pulldown list box

5. Press the “play”  button “>” immediately to the right of the selected language

6. Watch the magic

Once the language is selected, the viewer doesn’t need to do anything else. He/she can navigate all over the web site using the standard navigation bar at the top and each page will be translated as it appears. What I’d like from the volunteers is some feedback on how accurate the translation is. The few that I’ve tried are pretty darn close…not perfectly translated like a native speaker, but quite readable and accurate.”

If you have any feedback on the translation or readability of the site, please post it here in the comments and I will forward it to the webmaster. Thanks in advance for any help you can offer!

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A new tweetup tradition?


When I was in the ninth grade, I had to do a science fair project. Somehow, it was chosen as a regional winner and I was selected to go to the International Science and Engineering Fair, which was held in Tulsa, Oklahoma that year. One of the traditions at the event was that participants would bring tiny pins representing where they were from to trade with others. Some were representative of a city, some a state or even a whole country. The pin in the photo above was given to me by another student at the Science Fair who lived in Merritt Island, Florida, which coincidentally is where I live now.

I started thinking this might be a neat practice for attendees of NASAtweetups or ESA Spacetweetups to adopt. It could help to facilitate conversation and encourage tweeps to meet as many of the other participants as they can, so they can collect all the different pins from their tweetup group. They could even put a spacey spin on it, finding pins representing a local planetarium, space museum, astronomy club, or or other space-related venue or group. Maybe some of these establishments or organizations would even be willing to donate the pins to tweetup participants to hand out and trade with others? It couldn’t hurt to ask. So, upcoming tweetup attendees, what do you say? Should we try this out and make it a new tradition?

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Thoughts on Follow Friday

Last night I was pondering what the feelings about Follow Friday are now, after seeing many Follow Friday recommendation tweets over the past couple of years. If you are not familiar with it, Follow Friday is a tradition on Twitter where people will tweet suggestions of people for others to follow, generally including the tags #FollowFriday or #FF in the tweet. I remember when Twitter lists came out and many articles I read said that Follow Friday would go away. They said it would no longer be needed- people could just follow each others’ lists. But that isn’t what happened at all. In fact, Follow Friday is probably as strong as ever. Then when Twitter’s “Who to follow” feature was introduced, I heard rumblings that Follow Fridays would go the way of the dinosaur. Once again, that proved untrue. So, I was wondering what people actually think about Follow Friday recommendations, both posting them and seeing them in their tweet stream.

Obviously, I wasn’t doing a scientific study; it was just whipped up really quickly on a Friday night because I was interested to see what people thought! I tried to cover as many different options as I could, but left each question with an “other” option and a field to explain in case I left out important choice options. This is where I got the best data in terms of satisfying my curiosity, more so than the number results. I closed the survey this morning after getting 98 people to take it. Thank you all very much for participating and spreading the word!

The results:

First, I asked participants if they regularly posted Follow Friday recommendations on Twitter. Of the responses, 25%  said yes, 65% said no. The remaining responses were divided almost equally between “What is Follow Friday?” and “other.”  In the comments left, several expressed that they do them as time allows, when they remember, occasionally, or sporadically. Not much of a surprise here, though I didn’t expect to get any responders who didn’t know what Follow Friday was, and I got 5 of them. Shows what I know!

Next, I asked, “If you answered yes that you do regularly post Follow Friday recommendations, why do you do so?”  The responses to this question were not what I expected at all. A whopping 74%  of those who post Follow Friday recommendations answered ” To let the people that I’m recommending know that I value their content.”  Only 13% answered “To help out Twitter newbies.” In retrospect, this choice should have been worded differently. The comments left on this question are what made me realize that I should have worded it better. I should have said “To help other tweeps find good people to follow.” Oh well, it was late, and it is what it is. There were also three “other” responses and one “I thought I was supposed to.”  One comment I found particularly interesting was this: “It’s as much a mini-award system as just a means to recommend tweeps although that is certainly important too.” I hadn’t really thought of it that way before, but I would have to agree. Especially when (according to this non-scientific, quick study) nearly three-quarters of those who post Follow Fridays regularly do so more for the impact on those they are recommending than those they are recommending to.

After that came a question that dealt with how people that tweet Follow Friday select people to recommend. Overwhelmingly, the response was that  they carefully selected tweeps to recommend each week (87%) rather than using a standard list of tweeps each week, rotating lists, or choosing at random. In the comments, some indicated that their recommendations were based on people they had interacted with that week, newly followed, or those who had posted something interesting, amusing, or inspiring that week. One commenter said that they based their recommendations around a subject area or Favstar info (the people whose tweets they have favorited the most). I thought that this was interesting, and I was glad to see that people make thoughtful suggestions.

The next question dealt with the consumer side of Follow Friday. The question was “When you see Follow Friday recommendation tweets what do you do?” The results indicated that 40% scan them briefly and move on, 34% read them with interest and check out the profiles of those recommended, 13% ignore them, and the rest responded with “other.”  No participants indicated that they instantly follow everyone who is recommended. Some of the commenters indicated that it depends on who is making the recommendation whether they will investigate further or consider following. Several said if it was just a list of names with a Follow Friday hashtag they would ignore it, but if there was a reason given or something to spark their interest they would check out the tweep(s) recommended. This comment pretty much sums up the sentiment from several of the others: “Many lists from the same person with no explanation are ignored. A few FFs from close friends or people who are very interesting to me will catch my eye. Tell me why I should follow them and I’ll pay attention.”

The next question asked: “Have you ever followed someone due to a Follow Friday recommendation?” Only 14% of responders said no, almost 75% said yes, and approximately 10% said  only when they were new to Twitter. The remaining percent answered “other.” From this I can see that Follow Friday has worked as originally intended for the majority of responders. At some point, they saw a tweeted recommendation and followed someone new because of it. There wasn’t much to report in the comments on this question.

Finally, the last question dealt with what participants felt the overall effect of Follow Friday is. This is another question that I should have worded the answer choices differently as is evidenced by the comments, and the number or people who selected “other.” The majority of responders (30%) chose “Essentially a feel-good, pat-on-the-back exercise that clogs Tweet streams.”  I think this number might have been a little higher if the part about clogging tweet streams hadn’t been there. A few commenters indicated that feel-good pat-on-the-back exercises were fine with them. Roughly 25% responded that they thought the overall effect of Follow Friday was that “People find the most interesting people to follow, quickly.”  The next most popular answer was “Other” at 22% and following that was “A lot of white noise to wade through on Twitter” at 18%. The remaining responders selected “Zero” as in they did not believe that Follow Friday has any overall effect.

I thought the comments on this final question were the most revealing. That is why I chose to include them all here in their entirety.

1. Not sure
2. Some use some of the time, but mostly noise.
3. Essentially a feel-good, pat-on-the-back exercise that doesn’t clog Tweet streams. 🙂 Nothing wrong with pats on the back.
4. To let people I know they are important to me.
5. Used to work more. But twitter getting busier and hard to follow.
6. It all depends on what type of people you’re interested in following & who’s recommending them.
7. i can not comment i have no clue
8. Some where between noise and effective tool. If it was used more thoughtfully (not just lists of handles, but descriptions of why to follow) it could be really useful.
9. Good for new people, but otherwise, it’s noise.
10. It can be very helpful, but, yes, there’s a lot of noise. That’s a problem with all of Twitter – finding the gold nuggets among the constant avalanche of tweets
11. ??
12. Depends on the person tweeting, and if they are one of my trusted people I follow.
13. Very helpful when 1st on Twitter. Once in a while I make a follow recommendation just b/c vs. FF. I start to feel obligated to do them. I could not keep up anymore.
14. It works ok and I don’t find it to be an issue
15. Pat on the back I dont mind, lots on Twitter I scan over, no bother
16. Partly C, and partly D [“People find the most interesting people to follow, quickly” and “Essentially a feel-good, pat-on-the-back exercise that clogs Tweet streams”]. Sometimes a good way to find to people to follow, and it always feels nice to be recognized in a FF.
17. I think it is over-used, but can be helpful to new tweeps; if the one doing the recommendations is reliable. Lists have really replaced the need for Follow Friday.
18. I believe this survey has a predetermined outcome. You should learn to properly compose questions that don’t show the author’s prejudice.
19. Don’t mind them. Beats spam and porn. They get misused, but Twitter in general gets misused. If someone’s only #FF & no useful content rest of week, I don’t follow or unfollow.
20. It’s a great way to meet new people who have been vetted.
21. I think FF is useful to twitter newbies, or if you have varied interests. I’ve ended up friends with people who I didn’t realize we had common interests until I’d do a FF.
22. Marginally entertaining but not so much a bother
23. I do see people follow me based on so-so and good-quality FF tweets, so I believe FF is still pretty effective.
24. Mixed. When it’s not just listing everyone someone knows, but a targeted few with a reason why (dog ppl, book lovers, etc) then I sometimes find great new ppl to follow. When I do remember to do it, I make a few lists by category of http://theoatmeal.com/comics/follow_friday.
25. It is nice, but too many #FF’s and mostly the same folks over and over. I’m flattered when I’m on the lists, but, not sure I really gained more followers because of it.
26. It’s become something of a tyranny. It’s like having to go to the spirit rally on Thurs, even if you’re not attending the game on Fri.
27. Another way of finding new people to follow.
28. On a few occasions interesting people can be found you would not otherwise find – about 10% of the time.
29. I’m not opposed to Follow Friday, per se. I don’t do it myself, but I do thank people when they recommend me. I think the best way to find people to follow is by retweets. A single Follow Friday recommendation with a good explanation is somewhat useful. Many people do lists of names, and I don’t find that terribly useful. Just my opinion.

Overall, what I learned from this impromptu survey was that while there are mixed feelings on the Follow Friday concept, many people see it as somewhat useful and/or a nice gesture. It was also my impression that many responders felt that  Follow Friday tweets without any reason given (just lists of names) contribute to the overall noise on Twitter and have little value. Results indicate people feel that Follow Friday is a tool that when used well, can be effective and vice versa. On that note, check out this really cute comic at The Oatmeal on that very subject, if you haven’t seen it already. The biggest surprise for me from this survey was to learn that Follow Friday is more often used to let the people recommended know that their content is valued, rather than as a way to help others find new tweeps to follow. That was definitely an unexpected finding.

One of the things I’ve discovered in my time on Twitter is that people use it in all different ways- and that’s okay. Some people merely consume- they use it to get news or information but rarely or never tweet. That is a valid use of Twitter, as is using it for more of the community aspect and interacting with others. Some use it to post their progress as they diet or train for marathons, keep a record of their work schedule, entertain others with music selections, announce their whereabouts (often via Foursquare or other tools), share photographs, get others involved in a cause, follow sports, keep in touch, and more. Whatever the case, each tweep has a right to use it as he or she sees fit. The beautiful part is that we all have a choice of who to follow. If someone’s use of Twitter isn’t particularly interesting to you, you are not compelled to follow along. The same goes for Follow Friday. If you find it useful in whatever way (letting your tweeps know you value their content, helping others find people to follow, sharing interesting tweeps with your friends, etc.) then use it. If not, then don’t feel compelled to. It is a personal choice.

Thanks again to everyone who participated!

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How Twitter has made my job better

Okay, I know my job is envied by many, but at the end of the day it is a job like everyone else’s. It has its difficulties, frustrations, and other drawbacks. It is easy to become defeated when trying to make positive changes at work, because of the near impossible odds you are up against. Also there is a certain atmosphere of dread around the place due to the looming “END OF THE SHUTTLE PROGRAM” hanging over our heads which will mean the loss of the majority of our jobs.

When I joined Twitter last September, I thought it would be an interesting diversion, but never realized how much it could affect me and my feelings about my work. I eventually found myself in a circle of NASA employees and space enthusiasts who were tweeting excitedly about launches. At the first launch after I started tweeting, I got up to the minute updates from a space center contact, @herrea straight from the Launch Control Complex. It was so cool to know exactly what was happening and any potential delays that posed a threat. It was after this launch that Andy started to see the value of Twitter and decided to join as well. He’s @apacheman, by the way.

After that, I became even more entrenched in the space community on Twitter. I started following Wayne Hale (former NASA flight director), Miles O’Brien (aviation and space journalist), and Leroy Chiao (former astronaut). I saw that I was days ahead of my co-workers and even my upper management when it came to finding out what was happening with the US space program. I started to realize that Twitter  had the potential to help me in my career. What I didn’t anticipate is the effects that it would have on the way I felt about my job.

With this last launch, I had gained some more followers that are what I would call “space enthusiasts.” This was a really good thing because it forced me to look at my job from the perspective of other people who would give anything to be in my position. It made me more excited about the cool opportunities I had and more inclined to seek out new ones. I started posting photos I took during the day of things that seemed mundane, but was amazed to find that there were some followers that really enjoyed seeing these behind-the-scenes shots. I am happy to share these little tidbits with those that find them interesting.

I became Twitter friends with other contractor employees (some even within my own company) from Johnson Space Center in Houston that are facing the same “end of program blues” and uncertainty due to change that we are. It is somehow comforting to know that these people are dealing with many of the same challenges we are facing at Kennedy Space Center. We also can share our pride in each launch or milestone, knowing that we each had a little part in it. I also found an inspirational leader in @rikerjoe, who is trying to make positive changes within NASA and is very supportive of my efforts. 

While I have always tried to attend every launch that I possibly could because I didn’t want to waste the amazing opportunity I have been given, now launches are even more exciting. This is because I get to share the play-by-play with and from other Twitterers: some watching it in person like me and some on the other side of the world.

Last week, I was able to meet a Twitter friend that came from JSC for the launch and just happens to work for the same company as I do. Andy had given her a tour of the launch pad a couple of days earlier, and then, on her last day at KSC, she was able to come down to my work area and visit. It was a pleasure to give a tour of the Hypergolic Maintenance Facility to @absolutspacegrl because she was truly excited to be there. She did not think the hardware was mundane, but saw it with the fresh eyes of a space enthusiast. Even though she has a great deal of knowledge of the systems as a flight controller, she said that they rarely see hardware, and mostly deal with data. It was energizing to see someone that appreciates what they are seeing the way she did. She even blogged about her experience at KSC.

And finally, there is one more group of people on Twitter that help me through a challenging workday. That group is my blog friends that are now on Twitter; many of you I have now known for over four years, some of you I have met in real life, and all of you are people I feel honored to be friends with.  To @susank, @tropicalwonder, @poppycede, @nycwatchdog, @strangeafoot, @patrice108, @beth4158, @MaryKC, @Grynet, @kimsnotebook, @halo969, @felicia4774, @absentcanadian, @yoshi, @fyrchk, @sweetanne, :  I am glad to be able to keep up with you on a daily (or weekly, for some) basis and would be far worse off if not for your support. And Mel, one day you’ll make me truly happy and start tweeting again!

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Tweet

So, I finally succumbed to Twitter, and am giving it a try, as some of you already know. I have placed the feeds from my Twitter page on the sidebar down at the bottom, so if you want to see what I have been up to, it is all there, even if you are not a Twitterer (is that a word?).

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