Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This is what our government does?

Have you heard about this Red Balloon challenge that DARPA put together? This completely blew my mind away.

The funny thing is, I actually heard about this hunt for red balloons via Facebook. It must have been the day the contest was announced. A friend of a friend on Facebook had posted a photo of the balloons and tagged a bunch of people (not me, but one of my friends). I remember reading it and thinking that it must be some contest sponsored by Wired Magazine. I certainly didn't think it could be our very own federal government.

So, it's kind of creepy to me that the fellas at DARPA (which stands for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) would create this contest, which they claimed was designed as an experiment in tracking how information moves along online social networks. But it just seems odd. The guy who was in charge of contest is Dr. Peter Lee and he's the director of the Transformational Convergence Technology Office. That's not a typo. That's really what the office is called.

The more I look into DARPA, the weirder it becomes... When I Googled it, the little blurb that explains what the agency is reads as follows:
Commissions advanced research for DoD. It was founded in response to the surprise Sputnik launch in 1958 and fathered the Internet somewhere along the way.
Okay. Did you notice that? Sarcasm. What's with that? Oh, and we "fathered the Internet somewhere along the way." Did an intern write that? Did some funny web developer slip that in without anyone noticing? Really? Is that how DARPA operates? I'm mean it's kind of cool. But it's also a little disturbing. Shouldn't the people responsible for researching scary technology that could wipe humanity off the face of the earth be really earnest about what they do and avoid sarcasm? Maybe that's just me...

Here's a fun photo of the winners. I hope all the people that they promised money to get paid. That could be some bad publicity for the government if the whole things ends up in court or something...

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