Ten red balloons-- and one's in Charlottesville!

baloonTony Carmadella, Phil Reiman, and Mark Swanstrom of DARPA stood outside all day at the Tonsler Park tennis courts waiting in the snow for balloon seekers.
PHOTO BY KATIE HARTWELL

Update 11:16pm Saturday, December 5: There's a winner...

Ten red weather balloons were placed around the country Saturday, December 5, by the Defense Department's DARPA program to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the internet with a competition to test how information spreads online. One of those balloons, #3, flew right here in Charlottesville at the Tonsler Park tennis courts at Cherry Avenue and Ridge Street. All 10 balloons were set afloat for nine hours, and the Charlottesville balloon came down at 4pm EST.

The prize for the winning team (which needs to register at the DARPA website) is a whopping $40,000 and entries are accepted through December 14. For those of you in that mad race, the Charlottesville coordinates are 38 degrees, 01 minutes, 33 seconds North (latitude); 078 degrees, 29 minutes, 23 seconds West (longitude). Good luck! –with reporting by Katie Hartwell

–6:15pm post clarified to specify time zone of the Charlottesville balloon.

32 comments

Ummm, the question I have is: Why hasn't the photo on The Hook's home page been rotated to its proper orientation? Or is my head crooked?

Wow! I can't believe this news article was posted before the contest was over!

Gee, Skyler. That sounds easy. I wonder why you didn't take a few minutes to win $40,000.

Geez...if this balloon thing is so complicated in its understanding and info sharing, I can't wait for National Health Care.

You people are stupid! All you have to do is use google earth or wikipedia to find the coordinates. If you got them here (you didn't) then that was a waste of time. WHINERS!!!

The reporter and her sources were indeed little different than anyone else who saw a balloon and reported it to the world via Twitter, FaceBook, websites, telephone, etc. Googling for news and blog reports was just as much a part of teams' strategies as monitoring Twitter, checking web cams, taking phone calls from people who happened to spot a balloon and wanted to contribute to the effort, etc.

For that matter, perhaps the reporter should be commended for publishing via the blog for all teams to stumble upon rather than selfishly phoning it in only to a team that offered money for reports.

I'm the reporter who wrote the post. I'm curious about the dismay over revealing the coordinates. The purpose of the contest is to see how quickly information can spread and how, to quote from a press release given out by DARPA to a balloon seeker, "the internet and social media can mobilize large groups of people with a shared sense of purpose and how these networks can be harnessed in areas such as national defense, homeland security and disaster response."

It seems to me that if the goal of this project is to spread the information widely and quickly, this post is in keeping with that purpose.

There is nothing wrong with publishing information about what is known. This "contest" wasn't just to see who could find the balloons, it was to see how groups would work together to get and share information.

I'm a member of a group who knows where this one was.

(Anybody know where #5 and #6 were?)

Thank-you Courteney for posting this newsworthy item. It's probably the closest I will get to one of these balloons. I'm glad to see at least one was found, two if one can believe Kelley.

wait. its open to the public?

If every "news" blog posted this info the contest would suck. Please remove this post.

You did realize that the challenge is still going on further West and some people may not have found Balloon #3. It ends at 4 PM local time, not 4 PM ET (meaning the race continues for another 3 hours out West even though the balloons in the East were taken down). For anyone who didn't have Balloon #3, you just gave them the answer.

I have photos and information for confirmed #7 if anyone wants to swap!

Please remove toe coordinates and location! It ruins the fun for EVERYONE.

There's nothing in the rules that says you can't search news sites for balloon locations. How does this harm the contest? It's just another piece of information to be found and filtered by the social network.

No Jason, there isn't anything in the rules that prevents that. But what's the fun of trying to find the balloons if every news reporter that learned a balloon was in their city openly posted the information for everyone WHILE the race was still going on. Yes the contest is about social networking. You build a team of people around the country to go out and find the balloons. How they want to divy the prize up is up to them. But I don't think DARPA intended reporters posting the information as part of the challenge.

The HOOK knows how to ruin good fun.

Huh, joining with people that you don't know on social networking sites, most of whom won't have any chance to actually see a balloon, is fun?

Go Courteney!

WTFC?

For those of you who want coordinates removed, the dissemination of information is *part* of the challenge. The only ones who don't want the coordinates posted are those who want to save the information for themselves and win the prize.

Isn't the obvious way to identify the 10 locations

a) set up a central website where people who have happened to see a balloon and then googled for more information can identify the locations of the balloons

and

b) check google news updates for reports from people such as Courteney?

The overwhelming majority of people who would want to help are not going to be useful because they're not in the right position to provide useful information. Kind of like life, that.

The central DARPA site encourages sharing information so nonprofits have a good shot at winning. There is nothing wrong with posting the coordinates--it's all part of the game.

Okay, it wasn't the central DARPA site but here: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10410064-1.html

I think this is ABSOLUTELY APPROPRIATE! Its all about how information spreads on the internet. Did reporters used to use the internet? No, its all part of the use of internet. Doesn't ruin my fun.

Thank you. I have added these coordinates to the "DARPA Balloon Locator" at RavenGIS.com. Anyone can win this contest.

The contest is open until December 14th if nobody wins before that.
Red40k.com is still taking submissions for other balloons, and offering $3000 to each first balloon submitter if we win.

I can confirm that If we win, someone who has already submitted this balloon to us at Red40k, will be paid $3000.

I'm amazed at the people protesting the posting of this information. Part of the key to this contest is clearly flexibility. You learn, you adapt, you verify.

To those speaking in the past tense, I don't think the contest is over yet. The balloons are grounded, yes, but DARPA doesn't (yet) say there's a winner, and the deadline for submissions is days from now.

I really wish the bunch of you had known the entire point of this contest, as was pointed out by Courteney.

Now, back to touching my red balloon.

StalePhish, do you know what the contest was? It was "to explore how broad-scope problems can be tackled using social networking tools."

As you may or may not know, a blog is a social networking tool.

so rad

Internet/Balloon Fans --we need your help; could you spread this info around ?

Stop the Van der Linde lawsuit, press conference/protest 2pm this Wed, Free Speech Monument, Downtown Mall, Charlottesville Va.

If everyone, e-mails everyone they know, to show up ââ?¬â??maybe we can start something. Please post on twitter. thanks

to learn more about this go to :

http://www.readthehook.com/stories/2009/12/03/COVER-Vanderlinde-E.aspx