Listen to my audio report from Geneva, where we reported on how governments are working to keep human astronauts in small pods during their lengthy journeys to and from Mars. See it on globalpost.com — click here.
Some 20 years ago, a group of scientists, engineers and philosophers began calling for an effort to return to the moon. Now, the effort is taking place at conferences and on social media, along with commitments from some of the world’s biggest aerospace companies.
I was recently in Geneva as part of a team reporting on the efforts to send humans back to the moon and to Mars, working alongside a NASA scientist and a University of Washington computer scientist. We were a small, international group: one journalist, one journalist, one scientist, two students from an air-and-earth sciences department at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and one physicist. It was only our fourth time in touch over the course of a year as we reported our own findings together, using Twitter, Skype and I-Fi-type connections.
During our travels, I met several very cool people, got in a lot of interesting meetings and shared an Uber or two. After a while, though, I became increasingly isolated. I didn’t know any of the other people I was interviewing or even much about how the conference was arranged. It was a story in itself.
So, for readers, here’s how I manage to find yourself communicating with my colleagues and others about my unique travel experience, in my own words.
1. Clarify the process. Before any Twitter communication, you need to find out: What is Twitter for? As well as what does Twitter, uh, facilitate? You need to know how the service works. It’s a private messaging system that works through the Web. Here are its features: search, notifications and conversations, both public and personal, no longer than 140 characters each. Twitter lists are like part of your Twitter feed, though you don’t need to follow them to read them. Finding tweets that you want to follow is also a way to share them with others.
2. Find out who you are. Twitter makes it easy to connect with others in real time, including: people with common interests (about 1.5 billion people), people in your town (let’s say Seattle, Washington), and people you are connected to in more than one location (at least 280 million). Once you figure out who you are, you can learn a lot about each other. You will be able to speak about your interest, their interest, your experiences and also learn more about them from other people who will have similar experiences.
3. Find the resources. Twitter is not a complete self-selection process. Some people like funny jokes, and some people don’t. Some people read pictures, and some people don’t. Your interests may vary a lot. But your connections will, too. Everyone shares photos, jokes, hashtags and whatever else they find interesting. Everyone reads other people’s articles and tweets. So, it is possible to meet people you would never meet otherwise.
4. Experiment and learn. I occasionally forget my Wi-Fi password while I’m shooting video for our reports, which means I never get online. When I do, I see other people sharing interesting things. I also notice things they do that might interest me.
And I think we can all agree on one thing: If you manage to do it, stay here.
This week’s round of posts include a look at how the U.S. government is working to keep its astronauts in small pods during their journey to Mars, and NASA’s ongoing efforts to return astronauts to the moon. Click here to read them.
A native of Singapore, JunGoh is a freelance journalist and award-winning science writer. She reports on the space race for GlobalPost and the BBC.