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Sure I will elaborate. What is the goal of the experiment? What is the hoped for outcome? DARPA mentions "social networking" but did not really think about how to ensure that social networking will determine or even be related to team success. The challenge was covered by CNN. It is not as though the only knowledge of the challenge had to come through direct ties. Any person, not connected to anyone else involve in the contest, could have heard about this through general media and if they spot a balloon could easily Google the challenge and submit their location to the site at the top of the Google list, so a good Google Bomb algorithm could be the reason for a win rather than any "social networking."   

From DARPAs perspective what are the hypotheses? What are the assumptions? The design is entirely exploratory. From what I can tell, DARPA is going to wait for a winner and then post-hoc evaluate what worked for that group and then figure out and generalize what it means. In a note from another Socneter it seems one group has an hypothesis about incentives making a difference? If they win is it because of their incentive structure? There is no way to say. They may have been successful for unrelated reasons: timing, design of website... 

The bottom line is that one way or another, the internet will be critical in conveying results, it has to be, that is the way DARPA set it up. Other than that striking revelation what else will they learn from this event? How to make sense of the outcome has not been determined? I am not sure they have any plans for real analysis, if they do what data will they use? They do not ask for informed consent so they may not be able to collect data on who participated or how they found out about the balloons or why they contacted the team they did to convey results. Might they interview people afterwards? Who? Everyone who participated? Only those affiliated with the winning team?    

The bottom line is that this idea may have provided some useful insight into some interesting aspects of social networking, if it were designed as a social science experiment, but it is not. Instead it is a publicity stunt, and although social networks will be helpful in making this stunt a success, the way this was implemented it will not be very useful in discovering why or how. 

 







-----Original Message-----
From: Social Networks Discussion Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of John T. Maloney (jheuristic)
Sent: Saturday, December 05, 2009 3:21 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [SOCNET] Red Balloons on December 5, 2009

*****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****

Dear Elisa Bienenstock --

Re. the DARPA Network Challenge 
http://networksingularity.com/2009/12/04/le-ballon-rouge.aspx 

"This is in fact entirely a computer science experiment."

Hunh?

Care to elaborate?

Recall this remark from a UCLA alumnus.

"UCLA has one computer science department, but 25 full departments of
biology (not counting medical school stuff). Why? Biologists are smarter
then we are. When things are bogging down, the best thing to do is to go
create a new department. To do creative work in computing, you must get past
what you think is normal. Write down the 20 things you think are true of
computing and try to demolish them." - Alan Kay


Also, BTW, remember economics is a social science. However, don't expect a
Nobel Prize for sociology anytime soon...


-j

John Maloney
The Future of Networks
Mail: http://1id.com/=jheuristic
Blog: http://networksingularity.com 
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jheuristic  
Tel:  415.902.9676
Fax: 415.276.6074
Skype: jheuristic


 


-----Original Message-----
From: Social Networks Discussion Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
Behalf Of Elisa Bienenstock, Elisa
Sent: Friday, December 04, 2009 12:45 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [SOCNET] Red Balloons on December 5, 2009

*****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****

It is only 40k.... 

I am happy so many of you are commenting. Although I did not want to put it
in my initial post all of the comments posted so far occurred to me. I am
not sure if any of the participants are social scientists. I find it a bit
disconcerting that this is a "social" experiment and that none of the
designers have any social science creds. This is in fact entirely a computer
science experiment. What I find interesting, obviously, is who is out of the
loop. 

Many of the web teams have posted information about themselves on the web. I
think there is some interesting analysis that can be done. 

-----Original Message-----
From: Social Networks Discussion Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
Behalf Of Martina Morris
Sent: Friday, December 04, 2009 3:35 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [SOCNET] Red Balloons on December 5, 2009

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