SES Americom Launches Satellitewiki.com

By | February 1, 2008 | Feature

[Satellite News – 2-1-08] SES Americom has thrown its hat into the new media ring with the introduction of Satellitewiki.com, a Web site devoted to the satellite industry that allows users to add and edit content collectively.

     SES is hoping the site, which is based on the same open-source software used to power Wikipedia.com, will become a resource used by students, the general public and the satellite industry to learn about how satellites impact the world in which they live.

    “For the most part, the distribution of content is invisible,” Monica Morgan, vice president of corporate communications for SES Americom, said. “Even though people might recognize that there is satellite radio, the bulk of the [United States] still recognizes that there are broadcast channels, they don’t realize that behind that it’s all satellite. We think this is an opportunity to bring the industry to the attention of the consumer.”

    While Wikipedia is a good resource for general information about the satellite industry, it does not go far enough, Morgan said. Satellitewiki.com will serve as a centralized portal for all kinds of satellite industry information, from company histories to in-depth descriptions of terms.

    “What inspired us to do this was that not everybody understands what the satellite industry is all about and how deep it goes into everybody’s lives,” said John Sidline, a managing partner of Mobility Public Relations, which worked with SES to create the site. “To think that you’re actually encountering satellite technology almost every day in your life, there are all these really cool backend technologies that are satellite based and that are enabling very mundane tasks.” 

    SES funded the creation of the site and established the glossary but will not manage the content of the wiki, Morgan said. The company hopes that a community will build up to contribute accurate information and police the site and that satellite companies will add their own content.

    “The way the wiki world is designed, you don’t want it to be policed as much as you want it to be self-policing,” Sidline said. “But [we] do have the login to go on and change it, if people were to complain or if information is incorrect. We don’t think that will be an issue, though, because who hates the satellite industry?”

    Tom Surface, director of marketing and communications for Mobile Satellite Ventures, said MSV would be interested in contributing to the site. “There is a lack of central repositories of information [where] you can go and pull data from the industry,” he said. “I think this concept would be quite useful both as industry reserve as well as place for students to go.”

    One unnamed official at a larger space-related company said that it most likely would not be interested in adding information to the wiki because of the perceived risk of “new media.” The industry moves at a glacial pace, the source said, and companies do not want to take part in something that might not be there in another five years.

    Morgan said this view is short-sighted, and that the wiki was valuable in more ways than simply as a repository of information. “Wikis are another new media that are here to stay,” she said. “I’m not going to guarantee that they’re going to be here in five years, but I think that the Internet as a source of information should be something we nurture and encourage because we have to be concerned about where the next generation [of satellite industry workers] is going to come from. Part of our job is to continue to recognize the value of new media as a way of reaching out to that next generation.”

    Surface also agreed that the satellite industry as a whole is very conservative but that things like Satellitewiki.com are the way of the future. Satellitewiki.com “will be taken up by those companies that are more forward thinking and that don’t have as many rules, regulations and policies that would deter them from taking part in things like that,” he said.

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