The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will award $40,000 to the first person who can complete a new social-networking challenge. DARPA wants to learn how people use social networks to solve a problem. "It's the techniques people use to solve the challenge we're focused on," says DARPA's Norman Whitaker.
The contest will begin on Saturday, Dec. 5 at 7 a.m. PST, when DARPA will release 10 eight-foot balloons in different locations across the continental United States. The first person to correctly identify the longitude and latitude of each balloon will receive the prize. However, since the balloons will only be in the sky on Saturday until sundown, contestants must use social-networking skills and Web-based tools such as Facebook and Twitter to locate all of the balloons.
Whitaker hopes the contest will show how the Internet and social networks can help people build teams to solve real problems and challenges. Although DARPA does not know what the information on social networks will lead to, Whitaker says, "we're DARPA, we like to do things that are really out of the box."
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