According to Trendwatching.com, a minipreneur is a consumer-turned-entrepreneur, taking advantage of resources that were, just a short time ago, available only to large multinational organizations, including cheap hardware and software, access to global design, production, and manufacturing skills, payment systems, online marketplaces, and more.
The Amazon Web Services are one important element of this mix. The Associates Program provides online entrepreneurs with a way to monetize web real estate and to offer interesting products as part of a larger content model. The Marketplace Seller Program allows anyone to list and sell their own goods online. The Amazon Mechanical Turk provides access to a large workforce that can take on a wide variety of tasks ("HITs or Human Intelligence Tasks) at very competitive prices.
If you are a minipreneur and you've done something interesting with our services, we would love to hear from you! In fact, we are thinking of putting together some success stories around the minipreneur concept. If you are interested, please feel free to reply to this comment with more information about your application.
Andrew's code implements a TurkController class with clean, simple methods like GetQualificationRequests(), GetQualificationTypes(), ApproveQualification(), GetAccountBalance(), CreateQualification(), CreateHIT(), GetReviewableHITs(), DisposeHIT(), and so forth. It uses the SOAP version of the APIs and handles the request signing and error checking.
The Amazon Associates Team in Japan now has a blog of their own at http://aws.typepad.com/assoc_jp/ . I don't read Japanese, but it looks like they are blogging about special deals and promotions, and they are embedding plenty of cover art from books, CDs, and DVDs.
The Alexa Web Search Platform allows you to write and run code that runs on a server complex hosted and run by Alexa.
To use this service, you write code which calls the Search Platform API. Your code is responsible for processing a single document (e.g. a web page) at a time. You then use the Search Platform's GUI to define the types of documents that you would like to process, and then you run your code against this collection. When the results are ready, you can store them on an Alexa server, share them with other users, download them, or publish them as a web service. You can use this system to create your own customized search engine.
Pricing is $1 per CPU hour, $1 per gigabyte of storage, $1 for each gigabyte of data uploaded, and $1 for each 50 GB of data processed. Yes, everything costs just a buck.
Although we just rolled out the beta program last night, people are already talking about it. Here's a sample of what we have seen:
John Battelle says that "Every so often an idea comes along that has the potential to change the game."
Nyle (The Fencing Geek) says "This has really surprised me. It offers uncountable opportunities to
any entrepeneur out there with the know-how to create anything
imaginable. This is amazing, and can be really cheap too. That is
almost to good to be true, but it is since it has already been launched."
Susan Mernit really sums up what a lot of people are thinking (and saying) when she says "Wow. Wow. Wow."
That's the spirit! We look forward to seeing the cool and creative ways that developers put this new service into use.
Amazon's E-Commerce Service (ECS) is in the running for a Reader's Choice award from the Web Services Journal in the "Best Web Services Platform" category. To see how we are doing or to cast your vote, please click here.
Learn more about becoming a Mechanical Turk Requester!
I will be presenting a live, 2-part, web-based training series designed for business and technical audiences. Sessions will be held on Tuesday, December 13th (9 AM and 5 PM PST) and Thursday, December 15th (again 9 AM and 5 PM PST).
It's a good time for a quick update on the status of the Amazon Mechanical Turk beta test!
Overall, the beta test is going extremely well. The number, type, and variety of HITs in the system continues to grow. We have already seen the following types of HITs:
A9 BlockView Image Adjustment - Workers examine a number of candidate images and choose the one which contains a specified organization.
Confirm Artist Name - Workers examine an album cover and extract the name of the artist (or artists).
Extract Product Description - Workers summarize a block of text into a series of bullet items.
Select Japanese Text Direction - Workers read a block of Japanese text and respond with the text direction (left to right or top to bottom).
Podcast Transcription - Workers listen to a short segment of a podcast and transcribe it to text, basically performing a "speech to text" function.
Language Translation - Workers translate English to French or vice versa. A related type of HIT allows workers to verify the results of such a translation.
Web Site Review - Workers examine a web site and answer some survey questions about the site.
We are working with a number of Requesters to get even more, so keep your eyes on the list of HITs . These Requesters are very creative, and they tell us that they have a lot of pent-up work. This work should start to appear later this month and throughout January.
The number of qualified Workers is also growing, many of whom are able to do hundreds or even thousands of certain HITs per day. The Worker community has been efficient and conscientious about doing a good job, taking on an impressive quantity of work and returning it with a very high acceptance rate.
Mechanical Turk is still a beta-level product, and we are learning a lot every day as we watch the activity on the site, the multitude of blog posts, and the traffic on the various discussion forums. We are taking in all of this feedback, and it is feeding directly into our product plans. Our goal is to make the entire Mechanical Turk experience pleasant and profitable for Workers while providing Requesters of all sorts with a highly qualified and motivated work force. Getting all of the parts into balance will take some time, but we are making great progress.
There are a couple of issues that are worth a bit more discussion: zero-valued HITs, "bots," and blocked accounts:
Some members of the community have expressed concern over HITs that have a zero payoff. These HITs are placed in the system for testing purposes by Requesters while they are building their application. Of course, no Requester expects to get work done for free. There will be a better way to load these "test HITs" in the future. It is important to remember that Workers are free to ignore any HITs that are not to their liking or that don't seem to pay enough to be worth doing. The Requesters have the ability to adjust HIT pricing to manage supply and demand.
A few Workers are trying to run "bots", which you can think of as mindless HIT robots. While we do recognize that some high performance Workers use a variety of scripts to simplify and increase the efficiency of the Mechanical Turk workflow, we do need to point out that the use of fully automated bots runs counter to the Mechanical Turk Participation Agreement. Furthermore, it hurts the entire community by lowering overall quality as well as the amount of available work on the site.
In some cases we have blocked accounts when it appeared that a bot, rather than a real live human being, was doing the work. We have subsequently unblocked accounts where we believe the activity has actually been legitimate. If you are not using a bot and you believe that you have been blocked in error, please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org a note via the Contact Us Page to get our attention. Be sure to provide us with your account name and an explanation of any special techniques that you use to do your HITs.
Note: This post was updated on December 15th to indicate that the Contact Us page should be used instead of the email address.
If you can read and write French and English, today is your lucky day. Bitporters Media is now qualifying Mechanical Turk Workers to handle translation and approval HITS. The former pays 40 cents for up to 512 characters of text; the latter, 30 cents.