Wednesday, November 23, 2011

where I was this morning...

KSC Press Accreditation Building

This is the Press Accreditation Building at the south entrance to Kennedy Space Center. You might have noticed the last few posts here have been from Florida, and I just realized I haven't yet explained what I'm doing in Florida. On this humble blog, anyway; I've mentioned it a few times on the intertweets, and on this blog's geeky new Tumblr sibling, Exploration Images, if you happen to be following it too. I've been invited to a NASA tweetup for the launch of the Mars Science Laboratory / Curiosity rover, now scheduled for this Saturday, so I'm in Florida all week: Meeting people, taking lots of photos, contributing to the local economy, and hopefully adjusting to the shift of three time zones in time to wake up for the launch.

I picked up my official tweetup badge yesterday at this building, but needed to come back to pick up a free pass to the KSC Visitor Complex (which I'll probably use tomorrow). The Press Accreditation Building is also where "real" journalists come to pick up their credentials; if you look closely at the top photo, you'll see a sign indicating that there are separate press and tweetup entrances.

Separate entrance or no, it amuses me that I went through the NASA press accreditation process (or at least a variant thereof) on behalf of this humble blog here. Well, and my Twitter account, which has a lot more followers than this blog. Same for the aforementioned Tumblr site. And my Flickr account for that matter. Although comparing follower counts across disparate flavors of social media is really not a fair comparison. For example, following through Blogger is really not utilized all that often, even by regular readers (hint, hint).

KSC Press Accreditation Building

In any case, at dinner the other night I talked to a couple of people who'd been here before, some years ago, and the consensus was that the building seemed rather run down, even compared to what it was like just 6-7 years ago, probably due to budget cuts & deferred maintenance. I have no basis for comparison, myself, but to me the unmowed lawn, etc., actually adds to the charm of the place. It's a simple cinder block building that obviously dates to the early days of the space program. I don't know exactly when, or whether it always served its current function, but I have this mental image of stereotypical 1961 reporters lined up for their press passes, all of them wearing fedoras, chain smoking, swilling gin from hip flasks, making cynical wisecracks to each other, driving cars with tail fins, and lugging enormous Speed Graphic cameras around in hopes of nailing a LIFE cover photo. And then John Glenn drops by to meet the newspaper & radio boys and they all start waving notebooks around and chaos ensues temporarily. As far as I know, Walter Cronkite passed through these doors in order to get his Apollo 11 press pass. Or some nameless staffer did it on his behalf, more likely. I realize that's kind of a silly thing to marvel over, but still.

KSC Press Accreditation Building

I have to wonder what 1960s media would have thought of 2011 social media. We have photo gear they couldn't have dreamed of, and mostly use it to take cute cat photos. We have no editors breathing down our necks, and usually nobody to enforce deadlines. We can even swear in print as much as we want and nobody can stop us, although I almost never do. On the other hand, with the lack of annoyances comes the lack of salary, so there's that.

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