Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Twitter from Space

When I saw that astronaut Mike Massimino had decided to become the first astronaut to twitter from space I decided to follow him for a while and see how it went.

I'm not a big twitter user. I have an account but I seldom update it.  At this point I don't allow people to follow me without my permission.  And I don't have a lot of interest in following other people. Right now I'm only following 23 people and some of them aren't even people.  For instance, I'm following my local wine shop so I can find out about sales.  But I'm still following writer Arjun Bassu who writes complete works of fiction in 140 characters.

I've tried to follow more people.  But it never works out.  I'll see that someone has decided to twitter and I'll think, "hey! He/She would be interesting to follow."  But after a few days I'll un-follow them.  Especially journalists and politicians who use twitter almost exclusively to promote themselves or their work.   That's boring.  I can see them promote themselves, well, pretty much anywhere. 

So when I decided to follow Astro_Mike (as he calls himself) I fully expected that I would grow bored with him after a few days and cut him off. 

Boy was I wrong.  Mike is a natural born twitterer.  He is exactly the kind of person you'd want to follow.  He's doing something interesting and he gives you little updates as if you were part of a big extended family to whom he is sending postcards from space.   He lets you in on the day-to-day "stuff".

From orbit: Watching our commander, Scott “Scooter” Altman, practice space shuttle landings using a laptop

From orbit: Getting ready for bed, sleeping in space is cool, tie down your sleeping bag and float inside of it, very relaxing

From orbit: Listening to Sting on my ipod watching the world go by – literally

But what I liked most were his thoughts about what he was seeing.

From orbit: As I closed my eyes to sleep last night I thought “these eyes have seen some beautiful sights today”

And as he twittered more he grew better at describing the beautiful things he was seeing.

From orbit: The stars at night in space do not twinkle, they look like perfect points of light and I can clearly see the milky way galaxy

From orbit: Viewing the Earth is a study of contrasts, beautiful colors of the planet, thin blue line of atmosphere, pure blackness of space

From orbit: Just saw Orion’s nebula in the night sky – the sights make all the hard work and risk worthwhile for me

I wished that I was there with him to see it.  And he wished it too:

From orbit: My only regret when viewing the Earth is that my wife & children are not with me to see it (along with all of you following me)

Now that Mike (I think it's ok if I call him Mike) is back on earth I don't know that I'll keep following him or even if he'll keep twittering.  But I'm glad I followed him into space.