Well we’ve had a day to let it all sink in. Overall I’m still thrilled at how well we did, considering for the most part that only Larry & I were coordinating our group from my dining room table with 4 kids running around. With the help of our pre-existing networks we managed to get the correct coordinates of 6 of the Balloons. 4 were reported, 2 we were about to input- but were out at an event and got distracted by Larry having sold a piece of his art at the Rochester Contemporary Gallery woohoo! By the time we pulled out our iphones, MIT had snagged the prize.
We also were able to accurately weed out false positives with our tight-knit (read: trustworthy) networks. Several balloonhq.com members were called upon to verify sightings in person. We also were taunted with a false report of a balloon up here in Rochester (possibly created to drive us outside and away from our machines) but assist was requested and retweeted by several Rochester-area groups of twitterers. I’ll post a full list of credits/thank yous in the next few days- but I’ve been rocking a nasty cold since last week (so I’ll apologize in advance for the rambling.)
A few other things I’m proud of, I love the DARPA Flying Cupcake video explaining the contest and our strategy that we made at the wee hours of Friday (probably at least partially explains my cold) Larry’s voice was spot on for the delivery, and my visuals- while simple- I believe were quite effective at getting the idea across. People have mentioned how much they love the flying cupcake diagram that we’ve designed a flying cupcake sketch t-shirt available through Larry’s shop online.
It was a somewhat risky strategy, The Register referred to us as being naive and fluffy, but it did what we wanted it to- it made our team approachable by non-techies and unforgettable in a crowd of groups with names that were all riffs of “DARPA, Red Balloons”. We were more marketable to other networks with large reach, like Cupcakes Take The Cake, and getting tweeted about by Jen from Cake Wrecks (which now just leaves getting a project of ours mentioned on the Daily Show for my list…there’s always Monday ) OH! And speaking of news- ABC, PRI, as well as the Register and others that we achieved (thanks Sally!) were a boon as well.
What we didn’t do
One thing we didn’t do was to create false data, even though I am a photoshop goddess and I could have made photos that were truly convincing- and we could have spent last month creating fake online identities to stump other teams- and we have access to thousands of balloon artists who could have at a moments notice put up false balloons across the country- We didn’t. Our goal was to get people working together, and to do so would have tarnished any cupcake we would have made. Larry’s whole drive as an artist is creating community (as was the topic of his recent TEDx talk). We chose rather to use the talents of our fellow artists to create mini-giant flying cupcakes and engage the public outside of the twitterverse. Wynn Bell, a creator of one of our armada of cupcakes and was in Portland, even verified the #9 balloon in person for us.
So will our do-goodedness do in our Giant Flying Cupcake? I sure hope not. There’s still the possibility that the cupcake could get off the ground, but a project of this magnitude requires funding. We were hoping that maybe a national company looking for some positive exposure wouldn’t mind sponsoring a tasty flying treat- or perhaps a town looking to do something unforgettable for an anniversary would be interested- just as the good folks over in Sodus Bay, NY were interested in making a splash with the Fantastic Flying Octopus that Larry and his crew created for them in the summer of 2003. (Yeah, shameless plug, but hey- you never know!)
So it’s late, and I need some sleep. If you’d like to keep in touch with us on upcoming endeavors- you really should follow Larry Moss, @airigami. If you don’t mind the ramblings of an easily distracted, often thoughtful, highly-opinionated woman who likes to make stuff & occasionally brag about her amazing children/yard sale finds, feel free to follow me too @craftyb (you have been warned!)