10 pieces of IT that the Apollo 11 team could have used

With NASA and others celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing this week, it makes sense to pay homage to the technology that made man’s lunar trip possible.

Network World, for example, did a great job in putting together a slide show that looked at 10 Apollo-era technologies used today.Many of them were not, however, information technologies. Althoughfreeze-dried food and flame-resistant clothing are undoubtedlyimportant, they are not elements that make, say, a modern data centrerun, or even an information worker’s desktop.

This got me thinking about this story from the opposite direction:if the Apollo 11 mission were being launched today, what would the ITframework surrounding it look like? Several are here now, but theywould have been even cooler at the time. Here’s the list:

1. The Twitter feed: The #Apollo11 hash tag would be a staple ofmany users’ comments, and the ability for astronauts to provideup-to-the-minute commentary would have electrified viewers. “One smallstep for man, one giant leap for mankind” even manages to leavecharacters for Neil Armstrong to spare.
2. The Facebook fan page: If you think Dr. Who has a following, imagine how geeks would have gravitated here.
3. The iPhone App: The Apollo 11 would have allowed lovers of Apple’spopular device to integrate the constellations with your position. Thisactually exists. It’s called Sky Voyager.
4. User-generated video: It would have worked both ways, with clipsfrom well-wishers straight to the shuttle occupants, while the landingitself would have instantly become YouTube’s most popular clip.
5. Google Moon: Right now the search engine hascreated a more historical record of the landing sites, but picture acrater-by-crater look similar to what’s possible on Google Earth today.
6. The wiki: Better than a blog, this living diary would allowconstantly improved versions of key discoveries and learnings from theApollo team as they were being captured.
7. The ECM: With all the information being gathered and managed as partof the mission, NASA could have benefitted from an enterprise contentmanagement system. I’m sure it’s in a similar repository now
8. The data warehouse: This was a pioneering trip, but there shouldhave been enough data from simulations and tests to help guideastronauts through the more challenging parts of their journey.
9. The touch-screen PC: You try keying things in with those stubbyastronaut gloves. If there was an early adopter for Microsoft’ssurface, NASA would be it.
10. The Second Life site: We can’t all follow in Neil Armstrong’s footsteps, but this would be the next best thing.

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