Friday, May 8, 2009

How is Mark Polansky going to converse with anyone?

Wow, this sounds cool!

NASA astronaut Mark Polansky is planning to take social media out of this world.

In a YouTube video posted today, Polansky said that during his crew's mission to the International Space Station, scheduled for June, he plans to both issue Twitter updates and take questions from YouTube users -- questions that he will answer live from space.

"Your questions and my answers from space will be broadcast nationwide on NASA television during the mission," he said. "My crew and I are ready to fly and looking forward to sharing the excitement with you."

Note the word "sharing" - we'll get back to that.

The L.A. Times post that recorded this noted that, at the time of publication, the @Astro_127 Twitter account only had 234 followers. Things have progressed since then - I'm the 379th follower.

But Mark is only following one Twitter account - @NASA. Which means that his default feed only shows tweets from his employer.

Now I realize that Twitter has a search facility to find items of interest, and that (more importantly) Twitter's mention facility allows him to see any tweets that are directed to him.

But compare that with the Twitter user of the moment, @oprah. Now one could argue that Oprah followers nowhere near the number of people that are following her, but at least Oprah is following a few people, and she is interacting with them on occasion. Is @Astro_127 going to tweet @NASA?

@NASA there's a hangup with direct deposit of my paycheck-look into it?

@NASA asteroid WTF?

Now I'll confess that my own Twitter account @empoprises often consists of mind-numbing lists of links to blog posts and the like, but I do make an effort to do live tweeting on occasion.

And I'll also confess that usual follower/following ratios do not necessarily apply to celebrities, and that there's no way to expect Winfrey or Polansky to try to maintain a 1:1 follower ratio. Not everyone can be a @scobleizer.

And I'll also confess that Polansky is getting ready for a mission, and probably doesn't have time to seek out people to follow.

But I'm not about to award him the Twitter user of the month award.
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