When Tom Cruise told then-NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe that the space agency's website was "three clicks to oblivion," he wasn't talking about how easy it was to click from the NASA site to the one promoting his movie "Oblivion." He was talking about how poorly he felt the old NASA site was designed.
That's what O'Keefe said in a video released on YouTube last week of a discussion about US strategy for civil and military space hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a bipartisan nonprofit in Washington, DC.
O'Keefe, who was NASA administrator from 2001-2005, said that Cruise is a "big space nut" and that when he paid a visit to NASA offices, the actor said the agency's website wasn't really designed for the masses. He then offered one of his "tech heads" who worked on his movie trailers to help the agency out by redesigning the site.
"So I took him up on the offer," O'Keefe says in the video, "and it changed the appearance of that website in a way that made it inviting, interesting. Folks wanted to participate -- you know, here it is, it jumps out at you."
O'Keefe was responding to a question from Bhavya Lal from the Science and Technology Policy Institute. Lal asked about specific steps agencies could take to make data more available to the public. The question came at the end of a longer discussion, which can be seen in its entirety here. (Go to nearly the end of the video, around the 1-hour, 23-minute mark to see O'Keefe's response.)
"Every time I encounter situations like this of 'how do you make the information available,' I gotta thank Tom Cruise for his blinding flash of the obvious," O'Keefe said.
Apparently, the rest of us space nuts need to do the same as well.