[SpaceProgram] SpaceProgram Digest, Vol 4, Issue 2

Huei Ming Tan tanhueiming at gmail.com
Thu Nov 10 06:18:30 CET 2011

Thanks for the feedback guys, Paul and Jerry!


The reason why I think the gory details fits better with the SOW is
because, well it fleshes out the conceptual items already mentioned in the
Vision statement. Still, I think you have a point for us to add mention of
the multigenerational training, innovation competition as quick incentive
(on a related note, I've been thinking how we can go about creating an open
source Media Lab and tying up with the X Prize Foundation, as well as
taking on corporate R&D as their way of cost reduction) and CC (which
incidentally was implied in the part of having a nexus to manage
institutional knowledge, but not explicated).

*My primary concern is that I feel it takes way too long to get to the
vision: the historical preamble is nice, but generally is death in an RFP
response, particularly when reviewers typically have limited time on their
hands and you are competing for their attention against other submissions.*
*I'd be encouraging you to jump to the punch line as quickly as possible,
and my picks - from a quick scan of what you've written - would be focusing
on a theme such as "Enhancing humanity’s survivability by rekindling our
passionate history of exploration through the enablement of
long-distance manned spaceflight." and quickly highlight the intention to
"Push our social and technological limits to harness the resources in space
for us to survive and coexist in space will spur the innovation needed in a
time of urgent challenges, resource constraints and the need to get along
in an increasingly crowded environment.". I think the historical context is
entertaining additional reading, and supports that vision, but you need to
distill the essence down into a coherent, concise and punchy vision, and
relegate the detailed history to a subsection, possibly an appendix.*

Yes, I'm torn here between delivering the punchline straightaway
(effectively shifting the 3rd subsection right to the front), and pushing
forward a strong argument to back our proposal. So other than reshuffling
the subsections there, we could include a summary page right at the front.

*My other key concern is that I have mixed feelings about your conclusion
(based on the Albert Einstein reference of spending 55 minutes planning and
5 minutes executing) that significantly more time should be spend planning
than executing. Maker/ Hacker culture is often characterised by folks who
get in and "tinker": trying things out, watching them fail, learning from
their mistakes, and trying again. So planning, design and execution are
intimately entwined and it's often hard to see where one starts and the
other ends. **My feeling is a maker-lead initiative would probably get a
starship platform operational very quickly using this approach, get the
thing moving through space somewhere, and them simply make whatever was
needed from the resources at hand and harvested along the way. Obviously
the actual execution would most likely have considerable planning to get to
that point, however I wanted to make the observation that iterative
prototyping and deployment and actually trying to execute as early as
possible was an equally valid strategy and one better aligned to maker/
Hacker culture.*

I'm glad you've raised this point, because it means that I didn't do a good
job in explaining things there and I can share my thoughts on the matter. I
would like to first reassure you that I'm a wholehearted advocate of
starting right now, tinkering away to something that works (with the
associated concepts of fail forward, design thinking, hands on approach).
And that is what we'll do right here, right now, and right away.

At the same time, we need to continually ask ourselves whether we're
missing something, or just knowing what someone out there is doing that
might be useful to us and keeping tabs on whether this project that 20
Hackerspaces are working on for the next 15 years will be made obsolete or
accelerated by a development elsewhere, or be derailed by floods. In
essence, it's all about keeping an eye on the big picture as we run a very
large and international organised effort.

Warmest regards,
Huei Ming
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