This afternoon we stumbled across a social experiment being conducted by DARPA to test the power of social networks. The basic premise is on this Saturday, December 5, 2009 between 10:00 am (ET) and 4:00 pm (local time) DARPA will place 10 moored, 8 foot balloons around the United States. The team who can submit the latitude and longitude first for all 10 balloons wins the $40,000. A picture of one of the balloons, as provided by DARPA, is below so you know what you are looking for on Saturday. Simple enough, right?
After batting the concept around the office this afternoon we came to the following conclusions:
1. We need a cause in order to martial some support. The cause will be the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF). If we, as a huge yellow banded team, win – the full amount (less any taxes) will 100% be donated to the LAF.
2. Starting today we need as many people as possible to update their Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FriendFeed (etc.) statuses. This contest will probably not be won by driving around your local countryside.
Suggested Status Update (137 characters):
“I am looking for 10 huge Red Balloons this Sat 12/5. If you see any, email latitude/longitude to me and to 40kforLAF@gmail.com #40kforLAF”
The Hash Tag on Twitter for this effort will be: #40kforLAF
3. We have created an email address 40kforLAF@gmail.com for people to report balloons to on Saturday. We will then compile all ten (hopefully) sightings and submit them to DARPA. Please submit any balloon sightings in the following format:
Latitude: DDD-MM-SS (degree-minute-second format)
Longitude: DDD-MM-SS (degree-minute-second format)
Balloon Number (if possible): 1 – 10
4. We will keep you posted here on the Think Pipeline blog and on Twitter as the day progresses.
5. We have set up a call for coordinating efforts tomorrow night at 8:00 pm (ET) / 5:00 pm (PT). Please join us for a call to further push this effort if you are so inclined. Please drop a comment below if you can make the call tomorrow. Here is the conference line information:
Dial: (646) 558-2104
Access Code: 155-841-490
We welcome any other ideas on how best to get the word out. Happy hunting on Saturday and we look forward to putting this money to good use fighting cancer. Please note this is entirely a grassroots effort and we have no association with LAF or DARPA aside from we are trying to help get money from one to the other.
Full contest rules are here: http://networkchallenge.darpa.mil/rules.aspx