Spacepoints: The Grand Idea

BIG IDEAS MAKE THE WORLD GO AROUND. Everything in this world starts with a little thought, even the grandest ideas. But the problem with a grand idea is that at some point it needs to be reduced to a practical reality if it’s to be anything but a thought in someone’s head. And therein lies the difficulty. How do you take the idea and make it real without losing the grand part in the process?

Spacepoints is just such a grand idea. It’s not a game. It’s not an app. It’s a dozen apps, and a hundred different games, and so much more. The problem is that even trying to describe it is difficult, because there’s no way to do it without talking in concrete terms. So we talk about a system where people can tell other people about the space outreach things that they do and earn points. But what about a check-in app? OK, so we add that in. And what about the next idea for how to increase outreach and awareness? Why does it have to be space? What about particle physics? I could go on, but hopefully you get the point. This is why we talk about “Spacepoints: The Flame Thrower”. By injecting what seems ludicrous, we’re trying to remind people to think outside the box.

Even more than that, we really have to just do something. This is why is a great example of what Spacepoints is after. Sean Herron, sitting at SpaceUp Houston wanted to do something, and in less than an hour he registered a domain, created a website, and had a finished project to provide people with information about when and where the next rocket launch is. It’s about ISS Notify, where Nathan Bergey created a device to show when the ISS is going overhead, shared the design, and then got other people excited about the project on KIckstarter! He didn’t need the incentive of Spacepoints for that, just a desire to share his excitement for space with everyone else.

So how do we not fall into a trap where a single implementation becomes the definition for what Spacepoints is? The people who get it, the ones who couldn’t care less about the idea of Spacepoints if it gets in the way of the outreach, need to own the idea. As much it is about the community and getting people to go out and do, there still needs to be some kind of organization that are watching out against corporate entities coopting the idea (among other problems). This could be a non-profit organization, a “board of directors”, or something less formal. It is a place to provide guidance, to organize resources, and to make sure that the grand idea stays intact. If someone is working on a project and they need web design help, or graphics, or coding help, or anything at all, there should be a place they can go to find some help.

This is what I see Spacepoints as. It’s a way to enable people to do STEM outreach. Not just by incenting them to do so through points and prizes, but by making it easy for them to take something from an idea to a reality at ludicrous speeds. The more we can come up with to get people excited, the easier it is to find the next big idea that will be the breakout hit. So why are you still sitting here reading this? What idea have you thought of that you haven’t started creating yet? What’s stopping you?

Todd Palino


I'm a dad, a small business owner, a systems engineer, a developer, and any number of other things.

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