NASA launches open source revolution

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) may have won kudos from the Internet community for its social media efforts, but as news reports reveal, that is just the tip of the agency's web-based efforts.

According to Information Week Government, NASA is in the process of building on its success in social media and cloud computing, designing an entirely new web architecture that draws its inspiration from previous efforts, including open source--and sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

The next leg in NASA's Open Government Plan is part of a larger transparency initiative launched by the Obama Administration shortly after the President took office in 2009.

"Around the world, we're standing up for a free and open internet," Mr. Obama said in a speech in September 2011 announcing the creation of the Open Government Partnership, a 46-nation coalition focused on improving government transparency. "Today is just the beginning of a process that will only grow."

That 'process' for NASA includes over 250 social media accounts, at least 34 meetups between scientists, officials, and space watchers--and a new branch of the agency, "NASA Social", dedicated solely to outreach efforts on Facebook, Twitter, and other social network sites.

Even prior to the advent of social media, NASA was at the forefront of the Internet revolution.  As one of the earliest adopters of the Web in the mid-1990s, a time when very few government agencies had a presence on the Web, NASA’s websites currently garner over 600,000 visitors daily and 140 million each year--nearly half the U.S. population.

With nearly 1600 intranet and internet websites and 140 internal and external web applications they’re challenged to organizing into one, single infrastructure.

According to Information Week, NASA's solution to its Gordian knot of proprietary and public web presences is a cloud computing system that will offer a three tiered service of platforms, software and services for the next generation of software developers, systems analysts, engineers--and social media mavens.

The agency is currently in the process of releasing open source data for coders and developers through the website.  Over 500 data sets are slated to be put online in the next two years, but software geeks don't have to wait that long to reap the benefits--according to the agency, coders and developers will have access to the initial stages of NASA's new architecture within the coming year, including IT services and open source content.



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