Did you know archeologists excavating burial sites dated 4000 BC discovered that people used tree sap to glue broken pottery? And did you know that the Greeks invented several recipes for adhesives that included things like egg whites, blood, bones, milk, cheese, and grains. I discovered this historic information while developing a presentation on glue and social networking. Today, NASA uses heavy duty adhesives for the Shuttle fuel tank and tiles.
Asked by a friend of mine, Tim Young, of Socialcast, if I was interested in presenting (May 2009) at a new conference called Glue Con, on social networking and using the NASAsphere study as an example, I said “of course.” Since data analysis is boring alone, I wanted to craft a good story and weave in the study results. Before writing my presentation, I researched glue–where it came from and how it works—out of curiosity mostly. During my readings, I discovered that glue is similar to human behavior in social networking.
Here are the conclusions I came to:
• Different types of adhesives
• Mechanisms of adhesion
• Testing bond resistance
• Failures in adhered surfaces
Human behavior in social networking has:
• Different personality types, different types of relationship bonds
• What makes people connect?
• People create weak or strong bonds based on experience and trust
• People test the relationship bonds daily
• Sometimes relationships fail
Relating the above thoughts to the NASAsphere pilot as an example, I tied the process and implementation of the pilot back to the elements of glue. In NASAsphere, an adhesive layer was created by building trust into the network, as well as setting expectations of participation. Mechanisms for bonding were described by NASAsphere participants, when asked “is social networking just for Gen Y, or can anyone do it?” They mentioned “attitude and openness,” “willingness to embrace (new things),” “‘ageless’ attitude,” and an “attitude to can overcome fears,” amongst other things. Testing the bonds really comes down to the activity level and results of the group of people. For NASA, one of the results is big — 93% of answers were by people from a different NASA center. Another result is the growth from zero to 278 in 60 days because of the viral invitations from participants to NASA co-workers.
Next month I will talk about gossip and social networking.