DARPA in search of meme tracker
The ability to track the origin and spread of memes would be a useful battlefield tool, says the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
In a broad area announcement for research proposals dated July 14, DARPA says the spread of blogs, social networking sites and media-sharing technology such as YouTube are likely to result in profound changes in the nature of conflict.
"The effective use of social media has the potential to help the Armed Forces better understand the environment in which it operates and to allow more agile use of information in support of operations," the research solicitation says.
As part of an effort dubbed Social Media in Strategic Communication, DARPA says the military wants to develop automated and semi-automated tools that allow for the detection of idea and concept formation, the ability to track their spread, as well as whether they are deceptive.
The tools should also be able to recognize "persuasion campaign structures," identify participants, their intent, and measure their effectiveness.
The solicitation cites an incident in which rumors "about the location of a certain individual" began to spread in social media, leading to "calls for storming the rumored location."
"By chance, responsible authorities were monitoring the social media, detected the crisis building, sent out effective messaging to dispel the rumors and averted a physical attack on the rumored location," the announcement states. But the reproduction of such events today--the propagation of the meme, as well as its dispersal through counter-information--is heavily dependent on chance, DARPA says.
"We must eliminate our current reliance on a combination of luck and unsophisticated manual methods," DARPA says.
- go to the SMISC broad area announcement on FBO.gov
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