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The Internet Science

MIT and the DARPA Network Challenge 68

mit_team writes "As you might have heard, DARPA has announced a network challenge in the vein of the DARPA Grand Challenge. In this challenge, participants are tasked with finding 10 red weather balloons distributed throughout the continental US for 8 hours on December 5. The idea is to get this to be a crowd-sourcing kind of activity, where people will use social media tools to solve this problem. Our group, the MIT Red Balloon Challenge Team, based out of the MIT Media Lab, has created a system where you get money not just for finding balloons, but for getting people to join the hunt who find the balloons, or for getting people who get people who find balloons, etc. First you have to sign up. Then you can send invitations to others to join through your own unique URL, crediting you with recruiting them. While our team is interested in winning the contest, we are also interested in studying information diffusion in social networks. Does Twitter spread information faster than blogs? Is your blog effective at spreading information? We could use your help in getting out the word. If you sign up and blog about us you will be able to see the impact that your blog has on getting out the word in real time. Win money, help science, and help charity! Kind regards, The MIT Red Balloon Challenge Team."
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MIT and the DARPA Network Challenge

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  • by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <> on Friday December 04, 2009 @06:51PM (#30330312)

    Of course, these charming folks would never dream of using the project to map out, in a loose but enlightening way, the contacts of some of the more net-savvy people around. And keeping that info for future reference, of course.

    Vonnegut would loved it.

  • Well now... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Friday December 04, 2009 @06:57PM (#30330368)
    Although it sounds like fun, I can see some flaws in this approach. First off, I think that whatever you don't ask for and lands in your Inbox/IM windows is SPAM if it contains this kind of URLs. People don't ask if you want to participate, they simply assume you would love to participate and will endlessly spam you with mass messages, e-mails and even calls.
    Last time I have encountered such an URL sharing spree was no earlier than a week ago, due to a stupid site that promised that people would win whatever items if they get a certain number of clicks on an unique generated URL, just like it's the case here. All I can say is that I had to sign out from all my IM accounts because of that, and after things cooled down and I started my Yahoo messenger again, it froze due to the sheer amount of offline messages. Turned out that some people sent their bloody link over 1000 times via mass messages. So it's not funny at all, because people all get heated up about it and apply every dirty trick in the book to get an edge over the others:
    - Make redirecting web pages and give you a false link by advertising other stuff.
    - Threaten you to click on the link
    - Beg you
    - Send the link every 10 seconds or so
    ...and so on

    In this particular case, I'm safe (not in the US) but I've had my share in the past. And I don't like it.
  • by mtrachtenberg ( 67780 ) on Friday December 04, 2009 @07:05PM (#30330438) Homepage

    It's not just spam, it's a spam pyramid scheme. If this doesn't say something about our culture, I don't know what would.

  • Blondie (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Ssherby ( 1429933 ) on Friday December 04, 2009 @07:13PM (#30330536)
    99 red balloons go by....
  • And some red paint? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gavin Scott ( 15916 ) on Friday December 04, 2009 @08:08PM (#30331056)

    Not like anyone would even contemplate such a thing of course...


  • The future... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by seifried ( 12921 ) on Friday December 04, 2009 @08:27PM (#30331210) Homepage

    "All citizens, a murderer is on the loose. At exactly 4:23pm everyone needs to go outside and look for this man (picture shown on the TV), if you see him call 911 immediately." - paraphrased from Farenheit 451 f memory serves

    This type of thing, if it works would be an incredibly powerful tool in an emergency (you need to find a specific car, a truck with a shipping container, etc.). I'm glad to see DARPA embracing the future they themselves helped create 40 years ago!

"To take a significant step forward, you must make a series of finite improvements." -- Donald J. Atwood, General Motors