The speakers at the event:
- John Horton, Staff Economist of oDesk. John talked on issues of matching employers with contractors in an online marketplace. Specifically he described mechanisms for forcing contractors to give an accurate description of their skills, avoiding issues of over-tagging a profile with irrelevant keywords or over-claiming qualifications.
- Amanda Michel, Director of Distributed Reporting at ProPublica. Amanda talked about the crowdsourcing efforts of ProPublica, and how they use the crowd to enable better journalistic investigation of topics they are researching. At some point during the presentation, Amanda quoted from one of their studies "ProPublica pulled a random sample of 520 of the roughly 6,000 approved projects to examine stimulus progress around the country. That sample is large enough to estimate national patterns with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points." Honestly, a tear came down my eye when I compared that with the corresponding practices of Greek newsrooms that typically operate with samples of n=1 or n=0.
- Todd Carter, CEO and Co-Founder of Tagasauris. Todd described Tagasauris, a system for annotating and tagging media files. Todd described the annotation effort for Magnum Photos, (sample photos in their collection include the Afghan refugee girl, Merilyn Monroe on top of the vent, and many other iconic photos). A highlight was the discovery of a "lost" set of images from the shooting of the movie "American Graffiti". These images, shot by Dennis Stock, were in the Magnum archive but were not possible to find as they were lacking any tags and description. After the annotation effort from Tagasauris, the lost set of photos were re-discovered.
- Panos Ipeirotis, representing AdSafe Media. I talked about our efforts in AdSafe, on using crowdsourcing in order to create machine learning systems for classifying web pages.
It was a lively and successful event. If there is enough interest and participants, I think this is an event that can be repeated periodically.