Pentagon’s Darpa Agency Sponsors Balloon Search Contest

The Pentagon’s Darpa research agency is sponsoring a search challenge to individuals and groups in an effort to learn more about online behavior. The contest calls for people to find 10 red balloons which can be located anywhere in the continental United States.

The winner of the contest will receive a $40,000 prize, and it will go to the first person or group that successfully finds the locations of the 10 red balloons.

The contest starts on December 5, 2009.

The aim of the contest is to learn more about people’s social behavior on computer networks and the ways in which large networked teams use online resources and connections to compete with one another.

The date of the contest has a special significance as well – December 5th marks the 40th anniversary when the first four nodes of the Arpanet were connected. Arpanet is the military-created computer network that was the forerunner of the world wide web.

The red balloons will be visible from public roadways for a single day.

Search groups will probably use various tactics for finding the balloons, including: paying for information; developing software applications to help with the search and even possibly disseminating false information to competing groups about the location of the balloons.

Darpa plans to announce other large and small challenge contests in an effort to find new ways to tap into pools of talented people and groups. The contest is open to people and groups from anywhere in the world.

Interested people and groups can register for the Darpa Network Challenge contest before the Dec. 5 deadline @

[ Source: New York Times Online ]