Publicity power in space race

For all of the technological marvel of SpaceX, the public’s awareness of the company helps it power ahead.

Elon Musk has nearly 60 million followers, thanks to both the wonder of his vertical-landing, reusable rockets, and the extensive catalogue of must-see fireballs shared on social media.

Contrast that to Jeff Bezos, who is richer and whose company, Blue Origin, predates SpaceX. Blue Origin achieved vertical-landing before SpaceX, too. Alas, Bezos commands a mere 2.5 million followers on Twitter.

And so, perhaps, he is learning how the current space race is a bit of a popular mobilization effort. Despite his considerable achievement and investment, Musk stands, in the public’s mind, as the primary space pioneer.

That could explain Bezos’ decision to take the battle to participate in the NASA contract to build a lunar lander public. 

Bezos has offered to waive up to $US2 billion in NASA contract fees to remain involved in the project.

Somewhat surprisingly, he did this by appealing to the public through an open letter on the Blue Origin site.

“Instead of investing in two competing lunar landers as originally intended, the Agency chose to confer a multi-year, multi-billion-dollar head start to SpaceX. That decision broke the mold of NASA’s successful commercial space programs by putting an end to meaningful competition for years to come.”

Full letter here.

The take-away from the PRC trolling of Australia on Twitter

The takeaway is this:  “Nations that can’t effectively tell their own story risk having it told by another country” – that’s a conclusion by Jed Willard, global engagement director at Harvard’s FDR Foundation.

Australia’s story is not about one specific unfavourable news item related to alleged war crimes but about the much bigger, recurring themes of the rule of law, sovereignty, and trade fairness. These are the focal points of Australia’s story in regard to the Chinese Communist Party.

More detail in my story.

A little more background on the trolling, here.

‘Rank democracy’ and a democratic future after November 2020

For democracy to survive the Trump era, it must be able to communicate past disruptive language and ideas.

Senator Mike Lee’s comments about ‘rank democracy’ underscore how vulnerable our shared discussed has become.

As we near the US Election Day, there is a lot to consider about the future of democracy and the notions of freedom that have gotten us to this point.

Jardin: Social media ‘created by jerks and exploited by our enemies’

A succinct quote from tech-culture figure Xeni Jardin on the inherent problem that social media presents for a functional democracy,

( To understand her use of the word “jerk”, click on the podcast link below.)

“The fact so much of our discourse happens on Twitter and Facebook is responsible for why so much of our discourse is so twisted…”

“I don’t want to be one of those GenX jerks who quotes Marshall McLuhan all over the place, but the ‘medium is the message’ and right now the medium are these social media apps that were created by jerks and they’re being exploited by our enemies.”

“How can anything good come from that?”

Heard here.