Why Do People Love NASA?

I define community in two ways: 1. Community on a specific platform, like a Facebook group or a forum. 2. Community that connects around a topic, interest or pursuit in a decentralized way, across multiple platforms.

Disney, Coca-Cola and NASA are good examples of organizations that are fortunate to have the second. There are many people who love NASA and the work they have done, and will gleefully talk about it with other NASA fans, while at the same time, they may never play in any NASA-managed sandboxes.

Marc Siegel, who has worked in community for tech startups and established players like IBM, Intuit and eBay, spent more than a decade at NASA, including a substantial portion in evangelism. Why do people love NASA? Plus:

  • The challenge of privacy guidelines
  • Why viral coefficient/K value is an important metric for startups
  • Appreciating your community when it’s small

Big Quotes

“When I worked at NASA, they had about 40 contractors that had a van stuffed with equipment, and their job was to drive around to schools all over the country and put on presentations, teacher workshops and other things. I’m sure that program’s been cut by now, but they really were, at a grassroots, building up a core of advocates.” -@marcsiegel

“People who contact me, people who ask me questions, they don’t find the joy in having two to five members and really focusing on that. Instead, they want to skip right ahead to the hundred or the 500 or to the 1,000, and I think that’s unfortunate.” -@patrickokeefe

“I believe that if you have two or three people that care, then you do have a community. Personally, it’s really satisfying to have those deep relationships with people that care. Because when you go from having 5 to 20, it’s hard to maintain that quality.” -@marcsiegel

About Marc Siegel

Marc Siegel lives in San Jose with one wife, two daughters and numerous pumpkins (in season). Professionally, he has been doing online community since before the web existed for NASA, IBM, eBay, Intuit and several startups. Marc has connected people together in consumer markets, gaming, B2B, education and developer relations. He recently left Townsquared, a community for local businesses like retail shops, bars, masseuses or makers.

Marc loves solar energy and wishes most homes in America (and everywhere) would install photovoltaic panels for electricity. He also uses solar thermal to keep his small pool deliciously warm.

Related Links


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