The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is running a study where to analyse and explore the inter-relationship between the net and social media/social networking, the results of which could prove very interesting.
They talk of the activity as, and I quote:
… become(ing) a growing tool as part of various outsourcing strategies … to mobilise the passionate special-interest groups … to lead … activities on their behalf. From political canvassing to software development, from people journalism to environmental activism … led, in large part, by digital social media strategies.
DARPA have invited teams across the US to seek out and find one of ten eight foot red weather balloons that have been moored across the territory (and are easily visible from major roads, so this sin’t a treasure hunt). And to assist in generating traction, a US$40,000 proze is offered.
So far more than 300 teams have enlisted and DARPA are launching the balloons this Saturday, 5th December.
What DARPA are exploring is the “roles the net and social networking play in the timely communication, wide-area team-building, and urgent mobilization required to solve broad-scope, time-critical problems.”
Governmental and military policies could be influenced by how people are mobilised in the case of, say, a health scare or military insurgency; local authorities could could learn how to mobilise communities in the case of missing people or escaped convicts.
Commercial organisations are using already utilising flash mobs – and this is a further development of this.
The outcome of a study like this will help us understand how groups form, merge and integrate – and which touchpoints activate these dynamics.
The winning team has been announced, according to the BBC news.
Rod Geoghegan works with Marketing Services Agencies, Tech Start-ups and Professional Services Firms to plan and deliver growth.
He is Founding Partner at Metropolis Partners