Friday, September 8th, 2006
I’m at the d.Construct conference today, here to catch up with friends, really, and see what geekery is occurring. No power strips in the auditorium, and the jetlag is making me feel very groggy, so blogging will be light to non-existant, frankly. In fact, this might be the only session I blog, but I do so out of a feeling that Jeff deserves it.
I was critical of Jeff when he spoke at Xtech, not because he had nothing interesting to say but because he managed to say interesting stuff in quite a dull manner. We had a really cool chat about that by email afterwards, so it’s great to see that his talk this time round is snappier, funnier, and far more engaging than Xtech. Obviously this is nothing to do with me, but nonetheless it’s great to see.
Jeff Barr, Amazon
Cool examples of the way that people are using Amazon’s APIs, including one that allows you to visually compare and contrast the specs for computers on sale in Amazon - really neat idea and if I can find the url I’ll link to it.
He also talks a bit about Alexa, which is a web information service which crawls 10 billion web pages and keeps historic data. Does usual link to and links in stuff, does speed data, and web mapping stuff too. You can use Alexa to build a vertical search engine and can specify your own subset of pages you want to search. Basically allows search without needing your own crawlers and server farm.
Simple Storage Service - for storing data on the web. 15 cents per gig per month to store, 20 cent per gig to access. Private and public storage, nothing indexed, nothing processed, just stored. 800 million objects stored already, and is reliable and cost-effective. Simple APIs. Good for things like bit.torrents.
Lots of cool apps: S3 Explorer, filiciou.us, S3 Ajax Wiki (just an Ajax front to S3), Backup Manager, S3 Fox runs inside Firefox and tells you exactly what’s your in your account so gives you your local file system and your S3 account (or multiple accounts).
M-turk - people to do real work, APIs to make requests and do work on your behalf. Work requests are called HITs, and you can control skill sets of the workers using ‘Qualifications’, e.g. you can check to see if someone can translate French into English by seeing if they can read French. So you put up your Human Intelligence Task, someone does it the task, and then you pay them. Puts human into a processing loop. Can have same work done by several people so that if the majority give the same answer you accept that as the correct answer.
Removes the need for AI in applications by simply asking a person. Have the ability to feed high-volume tasks through to a distributed workforce - access to 1000s of people quickly and cost-efficiently.
Examples. One early HIT was asking 10,000 people to draw a sheep. Huge variety of skill levels, but cost only $200. Created a ‘Sheep Market’. Took workers 109 seconds on average to draw a sheep, and harvested them as 11 sheep per hour.
Casting Words transcribe podcasts with very high quality results.
You can create your HITs using the HIT-Builder.
Amazon Powered things in Second Life, Second 411 - can use a HUD (heads up display), which you can use do to Amazon searches.
Life2Life is a search of Amazon inside Second Life.
Virtual kitchen that can be used to interview people based on what you want to purchase and will then guide you to a set of results.
Also a virtual book store.
Also a mixed reality presentation that Jeff gave last week that was attended by about 40 avatars in Second Life.