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The MIT strategy included many components. When I first became aware and queried the internet, in November, the first cite to appear was the MIT page. They provided incentives ($2000) for sighters and also incentives for those who recommended the "sighters" to their team. They were also first to the "game" in a big way, with a huge media presence. It was impossible to find out anything about the challenge without also finding the MIT links. So it is not possible to determine if their success was due to the incentive structure or their media strategy (I think the later, but with an N of one I cannot say). In addition, their incentive structure was risky. DARPA stated that in the event of a tie the prize would be divided among winning teams. If MIT tied, rather than won, it would not have had enough prize money to distribute after taxes. Lucky for them 1) they won outright, 2) they could afford the tax penalty.
For those of you interested below is the official DARPA press release.
As an aside, I had a great time this weekend. The balloons added some excitement, as many of you sent email and it was nice to catch up. I actually got email from several who "saw" balloons, but could not be bothered to stop to find a street address. I clear generational effect.
For the SNA community in the US I think there is a lot to be learned from this contest and the way it was "deployed."
Have a wonderful week.
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