DARPA is hosting another crowd-sourcing competition, this time in terms of social networks. They’re releasing large red weather balloons around the US, and the goal is to spot and report the locations of all 10. The first team that can do this wins the $40k prize.
This seems like a really interesting application of crowdsourcing, since it’s not clear at all what the best way to go about this is, and DARPA will end up getting a lot of creative solutions to this problem. It’s not even clear how to do “conventional” research on this if they wanted to (unlike some of their other projects, such as the Grand Challenge).
Some people from MIT have their own strategy: paying people who spot balloons (which is a common strategy), but also people that refer the people that spot the balloons, and also the people who refer the people who refer the people that spot the balloons, etc.
I’ll be interested to see who ends up winning this and what their strategy is.