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Join Geocachers to Win the DARPA Challenge


Jeremy

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Fellow Geocachers,

 

As part of the nationwide DARPA event to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Internet, we're enlisting geocachers to be part of a fun social networking/GPS technology challenge.

 

The challenge is to be the first to submit the locations of 10 moored, 8-foot, red, weather balloons at 10 fixed locations in the continental United States that will only be visible during tomorrow's (12/5) daylight hours. The winner will receive $40,000. If Groundspeak wins the challenge with your help, we will throw in another $10,000 of our own money. The full $50,000 prize will go to schools that need GPS equipment through DonorsChoose.org.

 

Tomorrow, December 5th, a group of Groundspeak Lackeys will meet up in the DARPA War Room at Groundspeak's Headquarters to gather information online of the possible locations of the 10 weather balloons. We hope you will follow our attempts to win the challenge and help us along the way by gathering information both online and on the ground.

 

Do you want to help? Visit http://www.10balloonies.com - our official web site for Groundspeak's team. We'll provide up to the minute updates there and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/10balloonies. Also, if you are out geocaching, running errands or taking a morning stroll and spot one of the balloons, send us an email at darpa@Groundspeak.com. The balloons will be numbered, so we need to know what number is on the balloon along with the coordinates that it is at and any additional information (such as "saw from afar." Coordinates need not be exact, (within 1 mile of actual coordinates will do) so an address will work.

 

Even if you aren't in the continental US you can still help! Information will be spreading through social networks, blogs and news outlets. If you hear something helpful for us to find any of the 10 balloons, let us know!

 

With a global community of millions of GPS enthusiasts, we believe that geocachers are ideally suited to this challenge. With our collective efforts, we can accomplish something really positive!

 

Jeremy Irish

President & Co-Founder, Geocaching.com

Also one of the balloonies

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Great stuff Jeremy! I hope we can help Groundspeak win, and if we do thank you for the $10k additional donation.

 

I will have my ham radio group watching online and off across the country, any finds that we make or discover online will be reported to Groundspeak.

 

I've posted the link to the Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia geocaching forums.

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I just received the Weekly Mailer Addendum from Groundspeak. It's spreading the word about the DARPA Challenge. I'm sure it will have much greater penetration than just a Forum Topic. It would be great if we could pull this off. I doubt DARPA will be floating any balloons in my neighborhood, but I'll take a look.

 

No matter who pulls this off I hope someone posts the 10 locations after the winner is determined.

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I just received the Weekly Mailer Addendum from Groundspeak. It's spreading the word about the DARPA Challenge. I'm sure it will have much greater penetration than just a Forum Topic. It would be great if we could pull this off. I doubt DARPA will be floating any balloons in my neighborhood, but I'll take a look.

 

No matter who pulls this off I hope someone posts the 10 locations after the winner is determined.

 

Agreed that this is a great idea andI definitely think it's awesome to donate the proceeds!

 

Part of what we can do is also looking for other aggregations (in other social media) of possible balloon locations; even if one doesn't land in your neck of the woods, there is still participation possible.

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Thanks everyone!

 

One question came up around the rules saying that organizations and companies can't submit entries. We'll be submitting any winning entries as individuals, but all payments will go to Groundspeak in order to submit money to DonorsChoose.org - so although you technically can't enter as an organization, you can enter as an individual as part of an organization.

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I am, by no means, trying to rain on this parade, but I am concerned about a couple of points in the rules for the challenge and was wondering how these points are being addressed by the Geocaching group in order to win the competition. I do hope they win, by the way. It is for a very noble cause!

 

First, in the eligibility section, it states "Employees of the U.S. Government including spouses and dependents for tax year 2009 are not eligible to participate."

 

Does this mean that members of the military and their families are not allowed to participate in any way, or just not as individuals in direct competition? Can they be involved indirectly, assisting the Geocaching team?

 

Second, the rules also state "Entries may be submitted by individuals only, and only individuals are eligible to win the prize. Corporations or other organizations may not submit entries."

 

Is the Geocaching team simply using the assistance of the organization to aid an individual (who in essence represents the team) in winning the competition to fulfill the rules of the competition? Who is the designated individual?

 

https://networkchallenge.darpa.mil/rules.aspx

 

I am military and also a Ham, and if I am able to help, I will in any way I can!

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Jeremy clearly addressed one of your questions.

One question came up around the rules saying that organizations and companies can't submit entries. We'll be submitting any winning entries as individuals, but all payments will go to Groundspeak in order to submit money to DonorsChoose.org - so although you technically can't enter as an organization, you can enter as an individual as part of an organization.

 

I am, by no means, trying to rain on this parade, but I am concerned about a couple of points in the rules for the challenge and was wondering how these points are being addressed by the Geocaching group in order to win the competition. I do hope they win, by the way. It is for a very noble cause!

 

First, in the eligibility section, it states "Employees of the U.S. Government including spouses and dependents for tax year 2009 are not eligible to participate."

 

Does this mean that members of the military and their families are not allowed to participate in any way, or just not as individuals in direct competition? Can they be involved indirectly, assisting the Geocaching team?

 

Second, the rules also state "Entries may be submitted by individuals only, and only individuals are eligible to win the prize. Corporations or other organizations may not submit entries."

 

Is the Geocaching team simply using the assistance of the organization to aid an individual (who in essence represents the team) in winning the competition to fulfill the rules of the competition? Who is the designated individual?

 

https://networkchallenge.darpa.mil/rules.aspx

 

I am military and also a Ham, and if I am able to help, I will in any way I can!

 

If you as an individual (who happens to be a Geocacher and Military) provide information to another individual, I find it hard to believe your sighting would be disallowed. If you see something, report it to the contact links indicated by Jeremy.

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The e-mail address given has been rejected as "unrecognized" by two e-mail systems, so I'm going to post here what I was trying to e-mail...

 

"Sorry, but no red balloons to be seen from our house in Camarillo, CA, a few miles northerly of Degree Confluence N34-W119 :-("

 

I should add, however, that we will be driving to Escondido, near San Diego, later today, and if we see a balloon, we will certainly do what we can to get the details.

Edited by chaosmanor
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Here's my only problem with this contest.

I live in rural Southern Oregon.

We have a TON of geocachers around here who would love to get involved but I can almost guarantee that there won't be a balloon within hundreds of miles of us.

 

Only having 10 balloons in a country this big is very unfair to us country folk.

 

What would have been alot more fair would have been to put multiple amounts of the same balloon number all across the country. At least a few in every state BUT any individual could only log the location of ONE of each number for a total of ten logs.

 

That way a ton more people would have gotten involved.

Possibly even people who have never heard of geocaching would get curious and maybe join our ranks.

 

Just my $.02

 

Darrell

Edited by TeamTrekkerz
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Here's my only problem with this contest.

I live in rural Southern Oregon.

We have a TON of geocachers around here who would love to get involved but I can almost guarantee that there won't be a balloon within hundreds of miles of us.

 

Only having 10 balloons in a country this big is very unfair to us country folk.

 

What would have been alot more fair would have been to put multiple amounts of the same balloon number all across the country. At least a few in every state BUT any individual could only log the location of ONE of each number for a total of ten logs.

 

That way a ton more people would have gotten involved.

Possibly even people who have never heard of geocaching would get curious and maybe join our ranks.

 

Just my $.02

 

Darrell

You evidently misunderstand and did not read the instructions! There are only 10 balloons nation-wide so your being remote is no more a disadvantage than for anyone else.

 

The contest is about communications - and you can do this just as well from home, nay, much better from home on FaceBook, Twitter and other 'social media' tools.

 

You still have time... get involved!

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Update to the update!

 

From http://www.10balloonies.com/

 

Saturday, December 5, 2009

4 Balloons Found!

We're three hours into the challenge and we have confirmed 4 balloons! As you can see to the left of the main page, we're filling in the balloons and their numbers as we confirm them. Geocachers have confirmed them and have said hello to DARPA employees manning the balloons. 6 to go!

Posted by Jeremy at 10:31 AM 2 comments

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Here's my only problem with this contest.

I live in rural Southern Oregon.

We have a TON of geocachers around here who would love to get involved but I can almost guarantee that there won't be a balloon within hundreds of miles of us.

 

Only having 10 balloons in a country this big is very unfair to us country folk.

 

What would have been alot more fair would have been to put multiple amounts of the same balloon number all across the country. At least a few in every state BUT any individual could only log the location of ONE of each number for a total of ten logs.

 

That way a ton more people would have gotten involved.

Possibly even people who have never heard of geocaching would get curious and maybe join our ranks.

 

Just my $.02

 

Darrell

 

You might try emailing this to complaints@darpa.gov :)

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I'm stuck at work all day. :) but i can help by confirming there are no balloons at 525 E. 68th street in midtown manhattan :)

 

Yeah, likewise I can confirm no balloon outside my window on roosevelt island :D

 

(Or any where on roosevelt island...it would be pretty noticeable as we are but a small blip)

 

I feel I have contributed!

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Well, there are 7 balloons coloured, althought the new one doesn't seem to be numbered. :)

 

From their Twitter feed 12 minutes ago: "We're confident of # 10 but we're still making final confirmation, so we have half filled in the balloon. Crossing fingers...". Follow @10balloonies.

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I went ahead and drove out it was a bust, which i fugured it would be.

 

Most of us weren't going to find something. (How embarrassing would it be to discover there was a balloon just a little distance away and we didn't even look?) It's pretty impressive that we have found 8 (probably) so far.

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What fun! I can't wait to hear the details from the War Room. Thanks to all the Groundspeak Lackeys, I hope that it was as much fun to do as it was to watch.

 

Until the details are posted here is my understanding (which isn't always the same as the facts!)

 

The balloons just came down at 4pm Central time. That is not the end of the Challenge, however. We've got till 12/14/09 to try to discover where the other two were tethered, so keep watching Facebook, Twitter, etc. for someone to give away a location.

 

Groundspeak's army of cachers found 8 out of 10 nationwide in ~7 hours, an amazing effort! Of the 8 that Groundspeak found 7 were found by actual sightings and 1 was found from online posts. 7 were found by geocachers and 1 was found by a muggle who saw Groundspeak's offer to add $10K to the $40K prize and donate it all, and decided to help us out.

 

Again, until the DARPA Warriors at the Lilly Pad speak that's just my understanding of events.

 

So, what does it all mean?

 

That the Frog Palace can mobilize an army of Signal's Sycophants (geocachers) to do their bidding at a moments notice! Scary, huh? :) You can run but you can't hide! :)

 

Actually, I think that this all has huge implications for DARPA's research and, by extension, say Homeland Security... just as one example of many. Imagine the capability that this would give the government if they could mobilize an army of regular citizens interacting using the essentially free and instant social media tools we used today to help look for a truck with a nuke in it or even a missing person.

 

I can tell you that experiments and experiences like this with these social media tools will make a huge difference in how disaster emergency communications will be done. Radio will always be required for remote operations and for 'when all else fails', but when the internet and these tools are available they will make a real difference.

 

Mobilizing a corps of volunteer searchers is powerful, but gathering valid and usable data from this huge data torrent using multiple tools... that's the real success. The real story I want to hear is how the Groundspeak employees in the War Room gathered the reports, vetted and verified them. It had to be like sipping from a fire hose.

 

Y'all keep the Internet buzzing, hopefully you can help Groundspeak determine where the other two were tethered for a clean sweep.

 

If any of the Lackeys and Geocachers who played in this are interested we would love to publish your stories about this Challenge in The Online Geocacher.

Edited by TheAlabamaRambler
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Is there any particular reason why you think this is of interest to geocachers throughout the world? Surely a charitable event like this should only be publicised in the region that is affected. (And I also understand that all threads mentioning the very worthy UK's 'Children in Need' charitable event were not even allowed to be published in the UK's sub-forum!

 

Pots, Kettles, Black anyone???

 

Chris

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Is there any particular reason why you think this is of interest to geocachers throughout the world? Surely a charitable event like this should only be publicised in the region that is affected. (And I also understand that all threads mentioning the very worthy UK's 'Children in Need' charitable event were not even allowed to be published in the UK's sub-forum!

 

Pots, Kettles, Black anyone???

 

Chris

This isn't a charitable event, it is a serious government research project which will have important implications for all of us. The charitable part only came in when Groundseak, MIT and others decided to give the prize (and in Groundspeak's case $10k more) to charity.

 

As far as what it has to do with geocaching, quite a lot. The tools and techniques and the lessons learned from this research will have an effect on tools and practices of Groundspeak.

 

Lastly, He who has the gold makes the rules, and it looks to me like this was something Groundspeak felt worth doing. When you own the place you can do that! :)

Edited by TheAlabamaRambler
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