Government as a Platform?

Data, data, data. This is the answer for government in this new world of Government 2.0. Making government available to the citizens by building platforms for change. These are the ideas bandied around when the Silicon Valley Warlords came to Washington, D.C. this week to put on the invitation only Gov 2.0 Summit and teach Beltway insiders how their successes in the Valley could be instituted in the center of government.

The center of government. The center of politics. The center of policy. Of course, if the warlords have their way, the center of technology.

The concept of government as a platform is a good one on the surface. The idea that making government a series of, for lack of a better words, APIs to help the citizen understand and access their government officials and services better is a noble one. However, it is naive, and this is where the native-understanding of Washington comes into play.

The rest of the country looks at Washington as a city that is always in-fighting. That the entire ecosystem is made of bureaucratic citadels of power that never accomplishes anything. Incompetent politicians who all lie, lie, lie.

For those of us inside the beltway, we recognize that partisanship is a means to an end. That policy takes a long time to change, policy makers remain embedded as established government for years and even decades, and that politicians come and go. This is part of the expectation in our Washington. The agencies exist, made up of rank and file – the foot soldiers, if you will – and the policies in place in those agencies come from decades of precedent in some cases.

Some of it needs to be changed, and to the extent that OpenGov and Gov 2.0 can open up the doors to this change, then it will. However, some of this will never change and it’s not necessary to try to change it. Precedent generally exists for very sound reason.
lincolnmemorial

What will fail, however, is the replacement of the Washington system made up of politics, policy and also data by a fraternity-style, easy-money lifestyle of the west coast. While they talk billion dollar valuations on startups, we talk about billion dollar annual budgets for Level C agencies. Two different worlds. We have a much bigger stake, and therefore, we’re less likely to change how we do things because they suggest we should.

My suggestion is to O’Reilly and Camp: Come back to Washington, D.C. I know you’ll be back for Gov 2.0 Expo in the spring, but come back for a Summit too. Instead of dictating how the event goes, however, open it up. Make sure 50% of tickets are available for free for any verifiable government employee. (General consensus is the attendace was around 70-30, Private-public, a guess since O’Reilly Media declined to comment on attendance figures). Double the price for the private sector tickets to compensate. Here’s a hint: The federal fiscal year doesn’t begin until Oct 1. Budget money isn’t available to pay for the agency employees to attend your event. This isn’t the private sector. Money needs to be accounted for, especially during a recession. If you want this to be about government, ensure that the Feds can go free of charge and charge the Private sector double.

Secondly, allow questions from the audience. There was extremely little interaction with the audience by speakers. This needs to change if it’s going to be a learning environment.

I’d also suggest the need for a competitive event. With everyone who has dipped their feet into the Government 2.0 kool-aid, precious few have kept their noses clean from federating around this very failed event. I said in November that few of anyone has this industry figured out yet, yet the money flowing in from the Valley has caused almost everyone to sacrifice their independence and free-thinking (How many of you on that Gov 2.0 Summit Advisory Board are free to do a competitive event?)

I’d encourage some of the historically free-thinkers who have given up their independence to think about how government can really be assisted (let’s not talk about fixing government – they innovate much better than we do, actually) in different ways. I think there is room for events that will avoid the thumbprint of previous event and will federate around real ideas, not just inspiration speeches.

* Photo Credit: Big Berto

Space: The Final Frontier

Today is July 20th and it signifies a very important day in the history of mankind. It is the day we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the moon landing and, in many ways, the culmination of the advent of the technology age. 40 years ago today, we began a journey into space that has not receded (though we have not recently returned to the surface of the moon).

Much is being made of this anniversary today. WeChooseTheMoon.org, a fascinating real time re-enactment of the mission, including the days leading up to the pivotal moment, is a project of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.

It was Kennedy, in an address to a joint session of Congress in 1961, that called on Americans, with a specific mandate to NASA, to put a man on the moon by the end of that decade. An excerpt of this speech:

Finally, if we are to win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny, the dramatic achievements in space which occurred in recent weeks should have made clear to us all, as did the Sputnik in 1957, the impact of this adventure on the minds of men everywhere, who are attempting to make a determination of which road they should take. Since early in my term, our efforts in space have been under review. With the advice of the Vice President, who is Chairman of the National Space Council, we have examined where we are strong and where we are not, where we may succeed and where we may not. Now it is time to take longer strides–time for a great new American enterprise–time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on earth.

I believe we possess all the resources and talents necessary. But the facts of the matter are that we have never made the national decisions or marshalled the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time so as to insure their fulfillment.

<snip>

I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar space craft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters, much larger than any now being developed, until certain which is superior. We propose additional funds for other engine development and for unmanned explorations–explorations which are particularly important for one purpose which this nation will never overlook: the survival of the man who first makes this daring flight. But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon–if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.

369227main_aldrinLM_full
Since then, the United States and the world have gone through vast technological breakthroughs, often in greater haste than the 8 years it took to put a man on the moon. For instance, consumer electronics continue to progress at a staggering speed, particularly with the advent of the iPhone.

The internet burgeoned from a 5 hours monthly dial-up plan with AOL to saturation of broadband in many areas of the world.

Companies like Google continue to harness computing power to create vast databases of information.

Currently, NASA has the Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter (LRO) circling the moon in advance of a new moon mission by the end of 2020. The LRO is trying to map the entire moon surface (including the notoriously unknown “dark side of the moon”) to determine resources and terrain for the construction of a manned lunar outpost.

Many companies, news sources and blogs (including this one), are commemorating the moon landing with special logos, graphics or other site modifications. It’s just our way of saying “Wow”.

"A New World Awaits"- Obama on Cybersecurity

This is a guest post that I solicited today after President Barack Obama’s major cybersecurity announcement. I felt it was important to get the views and opinions of someone in the field. Enjoy! ~editor

Today President Obama announced the creation of a White House cybersecurity coordinator position and discussed the 60-day Cyberspace Police Review conducted by Melissa Hathaway. He repeated his mantra regarding transparency and accountability, and touched on the many aspects of cybersecurity that impact America- economy, infrastructure, military, open and efficient government operations. He certainly displayed his tech-saavy and awareness of information security terms. Yet, what changes is he really talking about? What practical actions can we expect to see?

He calls our cyber infrastructure “œthe backbone that underpins a prosperous economy and a strong military”. Right away he acknowledges that the lag in consumer confidence in online transactions and electronic networks is a strong factor in our slumping economy. Recognizing the economy and the military importance in a single sentence like this emphasizes that the idea that online transitions and communications should be able to be trusted equally by consumer and intelligence community alike. The fact that this new position, which oversees the new cyber security policies, is part of the National Economic Council and the National Security staff is the practical embodiment of this idea. Recognizing that securing online transactions and communications are critical not only to security, but the economy, ensures that he will be able to use greater budgetary discretion when bolstering funding for cyber initiatives. While he focused on the importance of consumer confidence, I was surprised that the exact figure regarding the billions of dollars lost due to fraud every year was not emphasized here. His bottom line is that we are losing money due to fraud, but we are losing even more money because of the fear of fraud.

The president then declared that, “œFrom now on, the networks and computers we depend on every day will be treated as they should be — as a strategic national asset.” This is an acknowledgement that the infection of these privately owned devices can seriously compromise the security of an entire nation- and not necessarily our own. When the cyber attack on Georgia occurred in September of 2008, the speculation was that the success depended largely on the infection of US PCs. These acted as a botnet to attack Georgia. Russian hackers certainly knew that Georgia was not prepared to cut off traffic from the United States. The President seems to acknowledge that they can no longer ignore the threat that comes from the computers of average citizens. Part of this is addressed by his motion to create an education campaign to address business, educators, and the average American. I believe he wants to educate people to the risks they present to the nation when they ignore an infected computer or leave their internet connections open and unprotected. On a business level, I believe these comments spring from the Aurora experiment, which demonstrated the vulnerability of our power grid. He is placing a responsibility and forcing the industries to acknowledge that their reliance on cyber systems is both an asset and a risk. He is careful to emphasize that the solution is not to eliminate or control the asset, but to mitigate the risks.

The president promised the new position would “œ”¦work with”¦state and local governments and the private sector to ensure an organized and unified response to future cyber incidents.” His focus here is on being transparent, issuing warning and updates and most of all- creating a format that is not “œad hoc”. This is something that security breach specialists have been calling for- a uniform procedure and response. There is too much variation in the thresholds, requirements, and regulations regarding the reporting, disclosure and handling cyber incidents today. I expect that companies can expect to see an outline of thresholds and reporting guidelines for reporting incidents. I also expect that notification will be required far earlier into the discovery of a compromise, so companies will not be able to “œgather all the facts” before informing the public and appropriate agencies of the incident. I would expect that more details will be provided, and agencies will be encouraged to coordinate in efforts to address vulnerabilities rather than keeping them secret until a solution can be found. Promoting the sharing of information about vulnerabilities should be seen as a benefit to the entire sector and not as a liability for the individual company. How  or if Obama plans to protect companies and agencies from the losses that may occur during the interval between sharing a vulnerability discovery and its “˜unified response’ will make or break this initiative. This is consistent with the recommendations in the Cyberspace Police Review.

Speaking on that note, the President stated, “œWe will strengthen the public-private partnerships that are critical to this endeavor”¦ let me be clear, my administration will not dictate security standards for private companies”. This will be the most difficult of his agenda items to live up to, and the one that he will be most criticized for. Many private companies fear information sharing, vulnerability sharing and full disclosure of data breach details. It will be a long and difficult road to convince the private sector that it is in their best interests to cooperate. The Cyberspace Police Review calls for a neutral third-party agency to take information and share it appropriately, but I doubt that will be enough to change the habits of the industry unless it is mandated. It will be difficult to maintain his other goals without some industry pressure or regulation. The market simply does not correct itself when it comes to matters of information security and commerce. I personally believe this speech was intended to hint that it is in the private sector’s best interests to cooperate with this collaboration if they want to remain as unregulated as they currently enjoy. I believe that the current amendments to privacy and security legislation are an attempt to ease changes into the industry by simply “œtweaking” aspects of current accepted regulations and rules.

Finally, his emphasis remained that they “œwill not”¦ will not include monitoring of private sector networks or internet traffic”¦ I remain firmly committed to net neutrality, so we can keep the internet as it should be- open and free”¦ A new world awaits, a world of increased security and greater potential prosperity”. This is an important distinction to make, and another subtle hint that the open and free market of the internet is critical to our economy and safety. He demonstrates his understanding that greater security does not mean the compromise of privacy or civil liberties, and therefore regulating the internet is not the answer. Recognizing net neutrality as a part of his cyber security efforts was a great way to try and smooth any ruffled feathers by the greater internet community. Since many of these initiatives address technology not widely used or available, it is more important for President Obama to emphasize what would not change as a result of this new position.

Ending his speech President Obama focused on the leadership we experienced in the 20th century and promised leadership in the 21st century. This has been another mantra of his- that we are able to lead, that we are leaders, even in this economy. Given the changes he is trying to make across government and industry, the belief that we are leaders in privacy and security is more important than the reality. I believe he stayed away from drawing comparisons internationally for this reason. Americans still have a bit of the cowboy spirit, and the best way to harness it is to convince the public that we are blazing a new trail of cyber security and policies. The spirit of innovation is obviously an important cultivation in this endeavor, and he makes no bones about his willingness to invest in education, training and programs necessary to nurture it. Practically, we should expect to see more government grants and funding in math, science and technology. Scholarships, research projects and grants are on the horizon as incidents to strength the public-private partnership. The question is- with what strings attached?

Rachel James is a licensed private investigator and cybercrime specialist at ID Experts. Her views do not necessarily reflect the views of ID Experts. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

WordPress 2.6: Officially Launched

If sources very close to WordPress development are to be believed, it’s dropping tonight. Many people will be upgrading their WordPress blogs tonight or tomorrow. Lots of folks have written about new things that you should be aware of so here’s a quick recap.

WordPress MU is following the WordPress development timeline and should see a similar bump in short order. It is jumping to version 2.6 to mirror WordPress development.

I’ll update this post when it actually drops, though as I said, it should be “sometime this evening Pacific time”.

Bonus points to the attentive user who discovers the easter egg in WordPress 2.6 and reports back here. ;)

Update: SVN Users. WordPress 2.6 is versioned. Revision 8332. Yet to be branched though the versioning in trunk indicates it’s imminent.

Update 2: Version 2.6 has been branched in SVN now –

1
http://svn.automattic.com/wordpress/branches/2.6/

. For those unaware, that pretty much means that 2.6 is final, just awaiting bundling and availability at WordPress.org.

Update 3: WordPress 2.6 is in the Wild

Congress Moves to Close Member Access to Social Media

This post is receiving regular updates. Events are logged chronologically with newer information, comments from those involved including Rep. John Culberson below. I have been getting access to internal documents, letters and memos being sent around Capitol Hill. As I get these, I will sanitize and update accordingly. Sources will not be disclosed without their knowledge and approval.

The creeping lunacy in Washington continues. My favorite Congressmen, John Culberson (R-TX) and Tim Ryan (D-OH), are under fire for the use of social media tools such as Twitter and Qik. They are not specifically named in this document, but it is widely understood that these two congressmen, one a Democrat and one a Republican, are actively circumventing traditional bureaucratic communication lines and talking directly to the American people.

In some cases, these guys are talking to their own constituency, and other times they are talking to people like me who are not in their districts. Between live streaming video and Twitter, these guys “get” that the government is by the people and for the people.

Here is the letter sent to the Democratic House majority leadership to silence this nonsense.

Read this document on Scribd: Capuano letter

Ridiculous.

Rep. Culberson is indicating, via Twitter, that disclaimers have to be attached to tweets and that, without a doubt, those disclaimers WILL be greater than 140 characters. Lunacy.

Added: I usually turn trackbacks off but I’m going to turn them on for this post.

Added 2: Techdirt makes a good point. The wording of the letter does seem to indicate that Rep. Capuano is actually trying to get the existing House rules loosened to allow for this activity.

Added 3: The GOP Response to the above letter.

Read this document on Scribd: Ehler McCarthy Price

We’ll keep you updated as more information becomes available.

Added 4 (Wed July 9, 12:17pm): Erin, in comments, suggests everyone is going a little nuts and that there isn’t real journalism happening here. Here’s a few pieces from those in the political space that were written this morning.

  • Outside the Beltway – James points out that Diane Feinstein is pushing a proposal in the Senate to make the Senate Rules Committee clamp down on similar activity on the Senate side.
  • In the Washington Internet Daily, an off-web mainstream press publication (WTF?!), Rep Capuano is quoted saying, “[The Republicans] would rather operate without rules and open the House to commercialism, [and his proposal] allows the American public to have full access to information from Members while ensuring that taxpayer dollars do not support commercial or political advertising on the web.”
  • Zen Pundit finally realizes what I’ve been arguing. This is not a partisan thing but “on the technological merits alone this may be the goddamn dumbest thing I’ve heard of regarding the internet coming out of Congress in a long, long, time.”
  • Erin, who commented above, basically points out at BlogHer, that Culberson is playing politics and has stirred everyone up using Twitter. While I agree that this is a political play, plain and simple, my coverage of this entire story is not about politics but about policy. If the existing rules are antiquated, as the second letter above notes and everyone seems to agree on that point, change the rules now. This is 2008 and it is completely unacceptable to stick with rules that limit the participation in social media by Congressmen and women. I accept the need to avoid the appearance of commercialism, thus the “House channel” on YouTube, but I cannot accept this limitation on our elected Representatives, should they choose to talk to their constituency this way.
  • CongressDaily reporter Andrew Noyes wrote, “A Brady spokesman said his boss has been ‘kept up to speed’ on both proposals and ‘is supportive of anything that can be done to clarify rules that provide more options for members.'” (subscription only)

Added 5 (July 9, 10:17pm)
Rep. Capuano sent this letter (unconfirmed). I need this on House letterhead, Source! which is now on his website. If this is legitimate, I’m happy to put this to bed. On the House side. But will continue to monitor how this issue is proceeding.

Read this document on Scribd: Capuano-statement

We are also trying to confirm Sen. Diane Feinstein’s alleged move to implement tighter controls in the Senate and will keep you updated.

Andrew Feinberg had a Qik (quick, get it?) interview with Rep. John Culberson who seems to have cooled down a little.

Washington Internet Daily who has some crazy copyright ideas that prevented us from releasing stories broke most of this news around 6pm yesterday.

Also, there is an experimental “Twitter petition” happening via letourcongresstweet.org. Participate!

Added 6 (Wed, July 9 11:55pm EDT):

An early copy of an article to be published in tomorrow’s Washington Internet Daily. Featuring me. And quotes from Culberson.

Read this document on Scribd: CulbersonWID2

Update 7 (Thu, July 10 6:11am): Waiting on a yet-to-be-confirmed 6am call from NPR.

Whenever a subject of a story replies in the comments on this blog or, say, FriendFeed, I try to update the post with the comment. Rep. Culberson responded in comments so I add those here. Note, that I will do the same thing for Rep. Capubano, or Sen. Feinstein.

Aaron

You have done a great job of presenting both sides of this debate and giving readers source documents. Let me add what I learned today on the House floor.

I spoke to Cong. Mike Capuano,Chairman of House Franking, who is a good person and a friend. He confirmed that my analysis of where this rule change is going is correct. Today they are focused on YouTube and video posts – Twitter and blogs and social media are next.

Under this new proposed rule (which he said is fluid) Congressmen could only post video that complied with House rules (subject to review and editing by House Franking Committee)on websites that complied with House rules if the video contained a disclaimer that it was an official communication from a federal official for official purposes. He said that YouTube has already agreed to prepare a “œsanitized” (my word) special website just for members of Congress to post videos. The special page can have no ads and no political content and must be reviewed and approved by the Franking Committee.

He confirmed that websites like yours, Aaron, are next.

Since I am typing this in my official capacity for official purposes on a non approved website I am already in violation of existing House rules which would require me to submite each word of this post to House Franking Committee for editing and approval.

When Chairman Capuano says the change they are proposing will make it easier for us to post – that is true – if we don’t mind having all our posts edited and approved by Franking Comm, and if we don’t mind being limited to posting only on preapproved websites and if we don’t mind the mile long federal disclaimer on every post.

If they adopt this rule, the only way I could ever post again on Technosailor is if I complied with their rule and edits and if YOU agreed not to comment ever again on politics or campaigns or make any recommendations of any kind on politics. Your website would have to be completely free of politics, elections and any commercial content or ads. Plus you would have to submit to regular reviews and edits by House Franking Committee or lose your preapproved status for Congressional posts.

Twitter and every other social media source would have to submit to the same requirements or they will be off limits to Members of Congress.

Mike Capuano is a decent guy, and we need to encourage him to do the right thing here with lots of positive reinforcement.

I recommended to him that he and the committee simply leave the internet and social media alone – that he might as well try to regulate the wind.

We are elected by because we have demonstrated good judgment and common sense in the eyes of our constituents. Why not trust us to use social media appropriately in our official capacity using federal computers Blackberries, Nokia 95 phones etc for official business, and if we stray and make campaign pitches or seek personal financial gain, nail us for violating the law.

But leave the www alone. Otherwise this Congress will be remembered (in part) for its futile effort to regulate the wind in much the same way the Viking King Canute is still remembered for thinking he was so powerful he could order the ocean tide to stop.

Thanks

Keep up the pressure

Sunlight is the best disinfectant and Congress needs a lot of it

John Culberson

The Shelbinator is the voice of a growing number of people who are seeing through what is becoming a charade noting that the rules already exist. Not that they are good rules but rules are made to obey. As a sidenote, the more I follow the story, the more I’m inclined to agree. The military, for instance, doesn’t get the benefit of choosing which parts of the Uniform Code of Military Justice it adheres to. Employees of companies don’t get the “benefit” of sexually harassing another employee, despite having free speech. My opinion is that the rule needs to be changed and that is the current focus of my fight and the one that, I believe, Rep. Culberson should be focusing on.

Congressman, instead of being a rebel or vigilante, I suggest you summon allies to fight the Rules, but live within them until such change is made. The only outcome I see from going outside the rules right now is your censuring.

Venture Beat completely fails to acknowledge this coverage here. Interesting, especially, because I’ve been prominently linked from all over, including Mashable whom Eric Eldon cited. Venture Beat also links to the Capuano letter on Scribd. Why not this post, where he would have had to have found it (Can’t believe he happened to be surfing Scribd and just came across it)?

Added 8 (7:39am) – NPR interview on BPP. Polished recording when it becomes avaialble. This was a quick grab. Listen now.

Added 9 (4:02pm) – This document was passed to me. Again, since it’s not on official House Letterhead, I cannot confirm the authenticity but it is in line with what I’ve been hearing.

Read this document on Scribd: Feinstein Statement

Added 10 (July 11 12:02a)
This will probably be my last update unless something new comes up. Thank you all for following this very important story. Thanks also to Andrew Feinberg from Washington Internet Daily. He does not get enough credit for being a solid reporter and he should. Through all of this, Andrew has been in touch with me and has provided quite a bit of backstory and information that he personally dug up himself. The unfortunate matter is, the publication he writes for is silly enough to call itself Washington Internet Daily and doesn’t bother to put together any kind of coherent web presence, thus missing the opportunities that I was afforded yesterday on NPR.

This, from tomorrows WID, shows that the Senate seems to be taking a much saner approach than the House is:

Some senators worry about outside sites using data mining technology to
track viewers of official videos hosted off the senate.gov domain, Gantman
said. The committee kept a ban on data-mining the official domain because
YouTube has agreed to not track or log such data, he explained. Unlike the
heated back-and-forth dominating the House debate, Feinstein and Bennett are
working toward what they expect to be a unanimous agreement
among committee members, Gantman said.

Eric Eldon, over at Venturebeat (who has since linked this coverage – thanks!) made a level headed assesment of this whole matter which, after running this story for three days now, I fully agree with:

I think Capuano just doesn’t understand all of this new stuff and it shows. I don’t think he’s trying to censor Twitter. He explicitly said he’s not aiming to do that, although his poorly-phrased letter could lead one to think that.

Basically, I think everyone wants the same thing and I’m afraid that Culberson, Capuano … are too partisan.

Interestingly, the mainstream media has jumped all over this after several days of grassroots effort. Of course, I was on NPR yesterday morning and Scott Stead, over at CNN grabbed this coverage from the CNN situation room with Wolf Blitzer today.

This will be the last update, barring something new. However, the angst over this has gone far enough and I’m choosing to believe that, no one is going to act irrationally surrounding these rules. At the end of the day, Republicans and Democrats alike want one thing – more power for themselves. A deal will be brokered one way or another and we’ll cover it when it happens, no matter which way the the hammer falls.

Remember. Last Friday we celebrated 232 years in this country. We’ve survived without our Congresspeople using YouTube and Twitter. We can survive a little longer.

Over and out.

Bringing the Kids Back to the Show: NASA Using Social Media

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. Hell, when *you* were a kid, you wanted to be an astronaut. Then, one day, we grew up and realized we were destined for more traditional careers like lawyers, accountants or *gasp* social media consultants. Yeah, we didn’t end up quite as sexy as we hoped we would in those days of being of single-digit age.

Today, my son and I watched Shuttle Discovery land online at NASA TV. He loved it and promptly said, “Daddy, I want to fly a spaceship when I get big”. I invited him over to watch after discovering that yet another NASA initiative was using social media. They were using Twitter (@STS124), in this case, to tweet the landing.

Picture 7.png

This is not the first time in recent weeks that NASA has used social media. The Phoenix lander on Mars is still sending tweets back from the Red Planet – though we obviously believe this is some savvy user or group of users in Houston Pasadena, CA and not the lander itself.

Though NASA TV broadcasts on almost every cable or satellite outlet, no one actually turns that on – that I know of. That’s because it’s often as dull and non-compelling as CSPANs programming. However, they are using social media to capture the moments that we will one day look back on and tell our kids about are indeed inspiring the imagination of a new generation who missed out on the space race decades ago.

President Kennedy inspired this imagination on May 25, 1961 when he aggressively informed Congress that he wanted a man on the moon within the decade.

I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar space craft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters, much larger than any now being developed, until certain which is superior. We propose additional funds for other engine development and for unmanned explorations–explorations which are particularly important for one purpose which this nation will never overlook: the survival of the man who first makes this daring flight. But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the Moon–if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.

Today, we have a shuttle launch every few months. We get jarred back to the reality of the danger of the adventure that is space with tragic accidents such as the Challenger or Columbia disasters, but soon enough, going into space becomes, yet again, a routine thing that is not all that riveting.

NASA has every intention of returning to the moon by 2020 and Russia wants to build a permanently manned lunar base by 2027. Do I have your attention yet?

In 1969, people woke up at 4am to huddle around tiny black and white televisions to watch Neil Armstrong become the first man to step foot on the moon uttering those historic words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Today, we’re huddling around internet-connected computers sharing historic space moments via uStream – where we watched the Mars Landing (SpaceVidCast not officially connected with NASA). We watched the tweet streams come in as we sensed the whole world was watching – again.

NASA is recapturing the imaginations of a generation all over again and using our tools to do it. All the kids are coming back to the show again and we all want to be astronauts. Again.