Online Community Summit: A report back

The sixth Online Community Summit was held last Thursday and Friday, October 4th and 5th in Sonoma, CA. We had a really great group of folks this year (as usual), ranging from small startups and non-profits, to large software, online and media companies.

The size of the Summit is small and feels really intimate. Because we limit the number of attendees, you actually have the opportunity to get to know everyone over the course of the 2 days. The smaller groups size also allows for real conversations during the sessions, as opposed to the traditional “talking head” sessions that make up most conferences.

Peter Cohen of Amazon Mechanical Turk
I found one of the most thought-provoking sessions to be Peter Cohen’s session on crowdsourcing. Peter runs Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service.

Peter started off with a bang by saying “The Internet reduces the cost of getting things done to almost nothing”.

Amazon started the “Mechanical Turk” service because they had / have data-oriented problems that benefit from interaction with large scale human interactions. They quickly decided that they could extend the model to go from “solving Amazon’s problems to everyone’s” Amazon’s belief was that there was power in online communities if you can only bring the people together for a coherent goal.

Amazon is using the service to:
– Cataloging content
– Deduplicate items (defy a machines ability)

Other companies are using the service to:
– Search companies get people to judge relevance. Search gives you results. User must pattern match to get answers
– Geospatial: UK – people drive around and take pictures of infrastructure
– Castingworks: Transcription / editing
– Catalog building
– Media Monitoring: uses MT to determine tone in popular press and social media
– Local shopping sits: product reviews

What’s Next Session
I had the pleasure of assisting David Forrest from The Motley Fool in the closing “What’s Next” session. Josh Ledgard has a really good synopsis of the session on his blog. Kim Bayne captured some of the session on blog tv here.

I’ve also added my slides here.

Other folks blogging about the event:
Joi Podgorny – http://joipodgorny.wordpress.com/2007/10/05/day-2-ocs-2007-notes/
Josh Ledgard’s Blog – http://ledgards.com/blogs/josh/archive/2007/10/05/ocs-2007-now-what.aspx
Dr Fuzzy – http://drfuzzy.wordpress.com/2007/10/04/online-community-summit-2007/

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