Monthly Archives: April 2015

Forrest Fenn and red balloons

Planning a trip to New Mexico soon to look for Forrest Fenn’s treasure. Most of my research has involved mining social media for background info (although I did buy his book). I should really know better.

In 2009, the Defense Department ran an experiment to gauge how effective social media was at solving puzzles. They launched ten eight-foot red weather balloons in ten separate locations across the United States, and offered $40,000 to the first person to send them the correct geo-coordinates of all ten balloons. They knew, because the balloons were scattered, that people would have to rely on and form social networks to guess all the locations correctly. It was encouraged as part of the experiment.

I spent that day, like many other people, hovered over Google Earth and trading locations on Twitter. I thought I was doing good. I didn’t expect to win, but felt I had at least three solid locations discovered. When the winner was announced, I had none.

Last year I visited both Washington, DC, and Las Vegas, Nevada, on two separate trips but close enough together to link the two in my mind, and I remember thinking, “Well, that’s America.” But maybe there’s another America waiting for me on the map, still.

The game is afoot!


The Thrill of the Chase