Saturday, December 5, 2009

U.S. Government launches balloons to test accuracy of information on the Internet

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced today that they were launching one thousand red balloons as part of a nationwide experiment to evaluate the accuracy of information as it spreads on the Internet.

200 balloons were launched simultaneously from each of the State Capitol Buildings of all 50 states at 12:05 pm EST today (12-05). A team of volunteers from the Supercomputing Center at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis will be monitoring all Internet traffic that contains the phrase "red balloons". These volunteers will be using a specially modified version of the FBI's Carnivore software to gather this information. Carnivore, in turn, was a joint venture of the Clinton Justice Department and Microsoft, Inc.

The project was designed jointly by DARPA and an ad-hoc committee of wikipedia senior editors. An unnamed spokesperson for the wikipedia editors stated that they hope to counter widespread concerns about the unreliability of the Internet as an information resource. DARPA, of course, is the Defense Department agency largely responsible for originally creating the Internet. Unnamed Defense Department sources stated that no public funds were used for the project, which is being financed completely by the Gates Foundation and the Partnership for a Better Informed World.