10 red balloons and the Darpa network challenge

Looking for Balloons and Insights to Online Behavior is an absolutely fascinating idea from DARPA, the Pentagon’s research agency. You can win $40,000 by finding 10 red balloons that could be anywhere in the Continental United States.

This is similar to the Wired story involving the attempted vanishing act by Evan Ratliff. Wired only offered $5000 for its social media experiment.

Called the DARPA Network Challenge, registration ended on November 23. The contest itself begins on December 5. The first person to send in the latitude and longitude of all 10 red balloons wins the big bucks. Here’s how DARPA explains what they are up to:

. . . explore the roles the Internet and social networking play in the timely communication, wide-area team-building, and urgent mobilization required to solve broad-scope, time-critical problems.

I can’t wait to see how long it takes real-time social media to put this information together for some lucky winner (or winners, if people decide to cooperate in order to win). You can follow news of the contest on Twitter @DARPA_News.