Re: The Challenger and Tech Comm

Subject: Re: The Challenger and Tech Comm
From: John Garison <john -at- garisons -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 05 Feb 2003 08:06:04 -0500

Are you familiar with Edward Tufte's analysis of the information NASA used to make the go/no-go decision on Challenger? He said that the information they needed to decide NOT to launch was there, but so poorly presented as to make it confusing. Here's one representation I found googling on "tufte challenger":

John G

At 01:41 PM 2/4/2003 -0500, Kreth, Melinda L wrote:

I spent Tuesday and Thursday of last week teaching the implications of the Challenger accident to my undergraduate on-campus technical communication students. I prepared the same lesson for my my adult-ed students who met on Friday night and Saturday (1/31 & 2/1) at our Grand Rapis MI campus.

In both classes, we watched the made-for-TV movie about Challenger, after which we discussed a variety of interpretations of how dysfunctional organizational culture and ineffective communication practices contributed to the accident. (The movie is not good overall--terrible in fact--but it does contain a very good dramatic recreation of the pre-launch teleconference, with Peter Boyle playing Roger Boisjoly.)

When the adult-ed students returned to class on Saturday morning (2/1), telling me that Columbia had burned up on re-entry, I thought they were playing a sick practical joke on me. I wish they had been. We spent most of the rest of the morning glued to MSNBC's live video stream. And as my students noted, it will be interesting to see in the months ahead whether or to what extent dysfunctional organizational culture and ineffective communication contributed to Columbia's demise.



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