Boom. It’s really happening now. We’re warming up the engines at TAG Challenge headquarters. We’re going to spread the word, starting with the following press release. Feel free to read it, memorize it, print it out, frame it and mail it to your mom – whatever you want. The world is your oyster!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

State Dept. Sponsors International Game of Tag with Cash Prize

Gamers challenged to locate five “jewel thieves” in U.S. and Europe

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The 2012 Tag Challenge calls on technology enthusiasts from several nations to set their sleuthing skills loose on a mock gang of jewel thieves in an  international search contest to take place Saturday, March 31.

The social gaming contest will have participants  use  technological and social resources to  locate and photograph five “suspects”  in  five different cities—Washington, D.C., New York City, London, Stockholm,  and Bratislava—based only on a picture and a short description  of each one.

The  first  person  to  upload  pictures  of  all  five  suspects  to  the  Tag  Challenge  website  will  earn  international bragging rights—and  a  cash  prize  of  $5,000.

The  contest,  organized  by  graduate  students  from  six  different  countries  and  sponsored  by  the  US   Department  of  State,  the  US  Embassy  in  Prague,  and  the  Institute  for  International  Education,  is   part  of  an  ongoing  assessment  of  the  value  of  social  networks  as  tools  for  international  cooperation   and  public  safety.

“It  has  become  increasingly  obvious  over  the  past  few  years  that  open  source  information,   especially  in  an  age  of  social  networking,  can  be  at  least  as  valuable  as  classified  information,”  said   Marion  Bowman,  formerly  a  Deputy  Director  in  the  Office  of  the  National  Counterintelligence   Executive,  and  a  Senior  Research  Fellow  at  the  Center  for  Technology  and  National  Security  Policy.

“This  exercise  demonstrates  the  globalization  of  open  source,”  he  continued.

A  similar  feeling  was  echoed  by  Gary  Anderson,  who  served  as  the  first  Director  of  the Marine Corps’ Center  for  Emerging  Threats  and  Opportunities  and  then  directed  the  National  Center  for   Unconventional  Thought  at  the  Potomac  Institute  for  Policy  Studies.

“This  experiment  could  give  us  new  insights  on  tracking  terrorists  and  finding  missing  children,”   Anderson  said.  “It  is  ‘out  of  the  box’  thinking  at  its  best.”

Since  the  advent  of  social  networks,  various  branches  of  the  US  government  have  launched  similar   initiatives  to  research  their  utility  in  the  public  sector.

Most  notably,  the  2009  DARPA  Network  Challenge  awarded  $40,000  to  a  team  from  the   Massachusetts  Institute  of  Technology  for  being  the  first  to  send  in  the  coordinates  of  ten  red   weather  balloons  stationed  across  the  United  States.

For  more  information  about  the  details  and  rules  of  the  Tag  Challenge,  visit  the  official  website,  www.tag-challenge.com,  or  email  tagchallenge@gmail.com.

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Download it: 2012 TAG Challenge Press Release