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Science@NASA Wins at 1999 Webby Awards

The People Have Spoken!
Readers vote "Best Science Site on the Internet"

March 19, 1999

3D GlassesIn an awards ceremony late last night in San Francisco, Calif., the International Academy of the Digital Arts and Sciences announced that web readers had awarded the 1999 Webby Awards People's Voice Award for "Best Science Site" to Science@NASA

"This is really an exceptional honor for all of us here at the Space Sciences Laboratory, at the Marshall Space Flight Center, and at NASA," commented Dr. John Horack, who directs NASA/Marshall's science communications process in Huntsville, Ala. "We're both grateful for the external validation of the quality of our work, especially from our customers, and gratified that others share our view of how important it is for scientists to take the initiative in communicating their work to those who pay for it.

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The award-winning internet site is one part of a comprehensive science communications process that has been developed by scientists at NASA/Marshall and has been operating for nearly 2-1/2 years.

"We recognized awhile ago that the culture of science needed changing, and that the scientists were the ones who were going to have to step up to the new requirements of their job in the post-Cold War era" commented Dr. Greg Wilson, director of the Space Sciences Laboratory at NASA/Marshall. "Our science communications process helps us do as good a job in communicating new knowledge as we have done in advancing the state of knowledge through science research."

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The NASA/Marshall science communications team was represented at the awards ceremony by Dr. Tony Phillips and Linda Porter of NASA/Marshall. Considered The Oscars for the Web, two awards are given in each category: a Webby, decided by a panel of judges, and a People's Choice Award, determined by popular vote from the same pool of nominees. Judges for the 1999 Webby's included musician David Bowie, actress Gillian Anderson of the X-Files television show, and Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, among others. But it was you, the people, voting at the Webby Awards' home site, who awarded Science@NASA with the People's Choice Award for Science.

"We kind of treat the Web as our "indicator species" of the science communications ecosystem," remarked Horack. "If the Web is doing well, we're probably doing a good job overall in sharing our research with those who can use it to make positive social, economic, educational, and quality-of-life outcomes in society. And these outcomes are really why we do science research in the first place."

Why is NASA interested in Science Communication?

A primary mission of the Agency, stated in the NASA strategic plan is 

" advance and communicate scientific knowledge and understanding of the Earth, the solar system, and the Universe, and to use the environment of space for research." (emphasis added)

This involves all of NASA's scientific research, and places the communication of newly acquired knowledge and understanding on an equal footing with the generation of that knowledge and understanding. 

Without communicating these advances, this part of NASA's mission remains incomplete. Therefore, in order to do their job, scientists need to better understand how to communicate the contents and importance of their research to the National Interest.

The concept of science communications is not new within NASA. In fact, in the Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, which created NASA, NASA is chartered to 

"provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information concerning its activities and the results thereof."

Web Links

Science@NASA, 1999 People's Voice Award Winner for Best Science site on the Internet.

"The Science Communications Process at NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center," presented at the 5th international conference on the Public Communication of Science and Technology in Berlin, September 1998

Webby Awards

International Academy for the Digital Arts and Sciences

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Author: Dave Dooling
Curator: Linda Porter
NASA Official: Gregory S. Wilson