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The time is right for an 'IT petting zoo'

Lucas Mearian | June 6, 2013
NASA's CTO of IT spends a lot of time playing with consumer toys, noting, 'the point is to be daring'

"Single loop learning ... becomes process or policy or tradition or part of your culture. But that's no enough. What we need to do is double loop learning. Make a decision, act, and get a result that's not the one we want and then go back and challenge the assumption on which we made our decision," Jones said. "We need to challenge... maybe even something like the Qwerty keyboard."

The Dvorak keyboard, for example -- a keyboard that places vowels on the left and consonants on the right -- has been proven a more efficient design than Qwerty keyboards, Jones said, but established norms are adverse to change so it hasn't been adopted by corporations.

Soderstrom said one technology that he picked up from CES that paid off in spades is crowdsourcing.

"We developed an International Space Apps Challenge where consumers were allowed to build apps for science," Soderstrom said.

In its second year, the International Space Apps Challenge had more than 9,000 participants, compared with 2,000 the years before.

"Consumer-driven IT is real, affordable and fun. Work can be fun and should be fun. We need to attract the next generation of explorers," Soderstrom said. "The point is to be daring."

Consumer robotics and their mobile device controllers have also found their way into NASA. Soderstrom demonstrated an app developed via crowdsourcing that NASA adopted that allows an iPhone to control a remote vehicle or robot.


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