Today at my internship, I was researching some stuff on the International Space Station and I ran across some information about the first tweet from space back in 2009. I know that this is now old news, but I thought it was pretty cool and thought I should share with the class because we have been talking so much about social media connecting people, and now people are connected to astronauts through twitter in (almost) real time. In 2009, for an astronaut to send a tweet from space, it actually had to be emailed to someone on earth, who could then tweet it for them (because they only had enough internet access for each astronaut to send out two emails a day. Mike Massimino, who sent the first space tweet, had to email his to NASA JSC who then posted it for him. A software update that was installed to the ISS in 2010 now allows astronauts to live tweet from the ISS. The on board internet access is called the Crew Support LAN and allows the ISS crew to remotely access a computer on the ground and use its internet connection via an on board laptop to tweet.
From orbit: Launch was awesome!! I am feeling great, working hard, & enjoying the magnificent views, the adventure of a lifetime has begun!
We started talking about this in class, and I thought I should bring this issue back up because it is directly related to UMW. A few people at UMW have been trying to get the #IStandWithFaith trend going to get the attention of the school and of disability services. They have posted a Facebook event to try to raise awareness about the issue, and to get people involved. Here is what the Facebook event says happened:
Last week, Faith was inappropriately confronted by a staff member at disability services who had violated her privacy and printed out a copy of a PRIVATE facebook status in which Faith expressed frustration with their ineptness.
Faith was implicitly coerced to feel guilty about her status and we want to raise awareness that NEGATIVE FREE SPEECH is not being welcomed at UMW. FREE SPEECH MATTERS. We as students HAVE RIGHTS to express opinions without any form of intimidation.
Although this explanation does not give exact details about what happened, the issue of privacy on the internet is clearly a contributing factor. This goes directly into what we were talking about in class. The internet is not private, not even your personal Facebook page, because things are put on the internet specifically for people to see them. As we all know, Facebook is making their pages increasingly less private, and therefore, everything we as users of Facebook post is within the public realm. That obviously affects the way that some people use social media. If you expect that people will see your posts, even those that were not intended to do so, you are probably going to be more wary about what you post.
I am not saying any of this is right or wrong. I have no insight into the details of the issue presented by the Facebook post, other than what was written in the description. She is making the claim in comments in the page, however, that social media is inherently private, because only those you choose to be friends with can see what you post. Although there is that security in social media, I do think it is a false security. In another post on the page, she says that her status was brought to the attention of the Disability services by another student. Again, I have no idea what exactly happened, and I am only going off the details on the Facebook page, I think that this incident serves as a reminder that what we post online can never really be private.
I love that we are talking about women computers for this class, because it is one of my favorite obscure historical topics. I am currently interning for the NASA History Office, and I was just having a conversation with one of my coworkers about it. She pointed me towards part of the NASA Langley archive that has information about “when the computer wore a skirt.”
The first women hired by the NACA (NASA’s predecessor) were hired because there was a weird belief that women would be better at little details and would therefore be better at the computations that the male engineers had been doing up until this point. These women mostly had bachelor degrees, but were still hired as “subprofessionals,” even though men with the same qualifications would have been “junior engineers.” Despite the lower value and pay put on women computers, they did get perks, such as being allowed to continue work after marriage, which was something a lot of careers did not allow. In the 1940s the NACA also began recruiting African-American women to work as computers. These women worked in a segregated team, and would occasionally work with other groups when extra help was needed.
These women computers were hired to read film, run calculations, and plot data. The data they analyzed was very important obviously for seeing the results of individual tests, which made the work these women did crucial to war time aeronautical advances. Women continued to do this work until electric computers were introduced, at which point they became the computer programmers. People like to talk about how amazing it is that America put a man on the Moon before computers, which is always said with the assumption that the NASA (male) geniuses did all the work of the computers. In reality NASA had a large and important workforce made up of women that get ignored by most historical narratives of aeronautical research and the space race.