#futurology, US$40,000 to find a balloon, or an analysis of crowdsourcing

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.

The analysis is focusing on the phenomenon known as Crowdsourcing, which has been identified as one of the 10 digital trends for 2010 identified by Last Exit and written up at Marketingcharts.

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.”

The ramifications?

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.


Navigating the emerging landscape

#typed notes explores the emerging landscape from an insiders perspective, commenting on futurology, social media, brand planning and anthropology. And inspiration
Rod Geoghegan plans and delivers growth in the marketing, advertising, digital, tech start-up and corporate space, through business planning, marketing and business development

He is Founding Partner at Metropolis Partners

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