Since I work from a variety of locations throughout the week, as I support different customers and types of activities, I figured I would make a few notes about what I would like to see as a new facility at JSC:  Building V.

The “V” in Building V is for Virtual.  As more and more of us operate in a half dozen different locations throughout the week, we need more mobility.  But we also need more of a Versatile presence too.  E-mail, tweets, voicemail, and even to some extent IMs, are not sufficient enough to directly engage in an active dialogue.  And my main NASA phone has severe technological limitations which does not support my mobility (it cannot be forwarded or set to multi-ring).  So this is where I need a better way to let people to interface with me, and vice versa – especially mobile people.

If I had a Virtual office, in Building V, people could call that one phone, preferably a VoIP phone, and it would multi-ring anywhere I configure for it to ring.  This is something many people have on their corporate phones already, but we need it for our NASA activities as well.  Few people care where I am, they just want to get ahold of me, and this would go a long way to helping them do that.  People also don’t want to dial multiple numbers to find me – if they don’t get me by phone the first try, they usually resort to e-mail or just forget about it – and that isn’t helping anyone innovate or collaborate.

If I had a Virtual office, in Building V, people could poke their head in through the door anytime they want, to say, “Hi, what’s up?”  I would love to configure MacBook Pro to connect to a virtual office space where I could still see people face-to-face.  We need that opportunity to walk down the (virtual) hall and see or colleagues and management.  It also helps to give the virtual workspace a more organic feel.

I would also hope Building V would be a hub for a handful of Virtual Conference Rooms.  We have one collaborative workspace in Building 29 already, “The Sp.ace” as Nick dubbed it.  Great place.  I just wish I could get to it virtually too.  Perhaps Building V could have several “themed” collaboration centers, where people could pick the right theme for their topic or activity for that day, and join others, virtually or physically, interested in a similar theme.  These would connect via a two-way video hub, so people could go by the Collaborative Workspace place, or could video conference in anytime they want.  Virtual Conference Rooms could also be used in conjunction with official Building V-IRC or IM-type multi-user chat rooms.

The last item I would like to see in Building V is a bunch of Virtual White Boards, something like multi-user version of Skitch.  One active board that people could share in writing or drawing on, and then save snapshots that can be pulled up later for reference.  Many great ideas start out with rough sketches and wireframes on a white board , it seems to me to be something that would be beneficial moving forward.

I dream of the day we have something like a Building V – I would be one of the first virtual inhabitants.  It would give me both a better single point of virtual contact, and freedom while mobile – helping me worry less about missing important communications.  And at the same time, Building V would give me more ways to express ideas creatively, and mature them with the participation of fellow virtual collaborators.

By Stuart Engelhardt

About Stuart

Software & Systems Architect

Johnson Space Center

stuart.s.engelhardt@nasa.gov