Today, 10 red weather balloons are being launched by DARPA from various points around the country.  Spotting one can win you real money.  But MIT is turning it into a social networking experiment.  So if you click on my link to join and you find a balloon, not only would you get money for spotting the balloon but I would get money for recruiting you and the person who recruited me also would get money.  If you recruit someone who locates a balloon, same deal.

So, what the heck.  I’m on the sofa today (I have a sinus infection and missed two days of school, plus I missed another day for the cold that welcomed the bacteria into my sinuses) but I have friends on facebook and random people who click on my blog, so here I go.  Go look for red balloons!  It will be interesting if someone in my network finds one!

Here’s the link to join my network:


Here’s what MIT has to say:

Explanation of the project:

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 crowdsourcing 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. Here’s an image of the structure:

First you have to sign up, which you can do here http://balloon.media.mit.edu/pooj/. 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?

Once you sign up, you can track you impact using a link such as

and you can spread your influence using a link such as

We could use your help in getting out the word.  If you sign up you will be able to see the impact that you have on getting out the word in real time!

Win money, help science, and help charity!

Kind regards,

The MIT Red Balloon Challenge Team

One Response to “Experiment”

  1. Melissa R Says:

    I heard about this first through my library school alumni list, then you, and then poof, MIT had won it and that was that. Now they don’t get any social networking data from me, because it was all over too quickly. Were they really expecting to learn that much, I wonder? Or is this secretly an sociological/game theoretical experiment??

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