Amazon insider’s confession :-)

July 22, 2008

Our guest speaker, Mike Culver, brought to discussion one of the most interesting topics we were talking about last Monday class. That was the cloud computing concept.

Mike also continued and expanded on the Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service, an online crowdsourcing marketplace for HITs – human intelligence tasks. Last week’s guest speaker talked about it as well. However, since Mturk is one of the suites of Amazon Web Services, Mike was able to provide more details on this topic, giving really interesting examples of how this service is being used.

One of the examples was the collective search for a Steve Fossett’s plane using the latest Google satellite pictures. What is really amazing, thousands of people spend a lot of their personal time without even getting paid. That’s a real power of the networks.

Steve Fossett’s case made me think also about the transformation of journalism caused by the social media appearance once more. The fact that the plain was missing on September 3rd and the press (CBC) covered the story only 8 days later, on September 11th illustrated the shift of a power from professionals working for traditional media outlets to amateurs once again. Media aren’t mainstream anymore. They used to be the main source of news, covering newest stories and delivering the latest news. Nowadays, media, as it often happens, cover the topics that create a significant buzz online.

What I didn’t expect to learn from an Amazon insider was the information about, one of the Amazon partners. is using the annoying business model that was being used for selling obscure goods online few years ago (it might be in use even now – I’m not 100% sure). It looks like this: one web site is selling something pretty obscure for the high price (quite rare MP3s, exotic alcoholic beverages – whatever). They buy a lot of different domain names and create slightly different web sites with the similar content. Thus, they get all/most the positions on the first page of major search engines results in their category. If you decide to buy the product from any of these sites, you end up on the master’s web site they are pointing to. It’s not clear for me, what’s the Amazon’s point in doing that?


One Response to “Amazon insider’s confession :-)”

  1. kegill Says:

    Hi, Ivan — interesting observation about media/amateurs re the search.

    RE … it’s not an Amazon site. It’s an affiliate site. The affiliate uses Amazon’s catalog via XML — and is a way that Amazon extends its reach:
    PO Box 3530
    Logan, UT 84323

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