What I have learned working with scientists in my time at Amazon

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What I have learned working with scientists in my time at Amazon about building algorithms for solving business problems.

For the past few years I have been working with Amazon’s Machine Learning University. My role has been to help them scale and reach more Amazonian’s. We accomplished this by creating a learning platform with supportive course content, an emphasis on strong visual and interactive learning. We basically flipped the classroom. My focus has always been to put the experience of the learner first. Providing a clean design, removing noise, with engaging content so the student can focus on learning. The approach has been a great success in teaching Amazonian’s to solve Amazon business problems with Machine Learning.

Enough on what I did and back to what I have learned.

I think one of the first lessons was the importance of gathering data. Data is at the core of understanding the problem. We often approach problems in business or personal for that matter without taking in good data. We lack a complete understanding of the problem.

Until you have data you really can’t build an understanding of what ground truth is. This is very important because everything builds from ground truth. You must explore and visualize your data to establish this. You need to make sure you understand the details that may be hidden in your data. Establish things like context, sentiment, frequency to establish relevancy. Remove the unimportant stuff and focus on what is really important. To do this you may have to do the math, yes, the math. Math is the magic used manipulate and visualize your data. This may sound simple but remember its math. There may be some work to do as you build your algorithm and try and find ground truth. You may need to do some tuning, adjusting your algorithm there is not always a predefined path but more of a process or framework to help you get to your final output.

It is at this point, the point when you see things clearly. But that’s not it. There is something bigger than solving the problem. What? As you know solving problems can sometimes be like putting your finder on the dike. The problem may come again or one like it.

The real value comes in prediction. Now that you can see clearly what has happened in the past and today using insights from your data you can start to predict what will happen next. It’s something Amazon does very well. You know “I see that you purchased that guitar, would you like to look at guitar for dummies or perhaps something to tune that thing please. It’s the secrete sauce, yes, I’d like to solve my problems in the future.

There is one more thing and it maybe my favorite. In my time at Amazon I have discusses quantum physics, robots & rocket science and lots of other geeky fun topics sometimes while playing ping pong. What a privilege that has been to work with some truly inspiring people at Amazon. That said the real insights I gained where from working with the amazing people at Amazon. It’s their drive to solve problems, innovate, willingness to work hard and learn as they go. I’ve worked with some of the smartest people I have ever met here. Many of them are physicists, mathematics masters and rocket scientists. Yet they don’t pretend to know the all answers but they do know how to work hard to get them. I also appreciated the great leadership I worked with in my time at Amazon. Nothing happens in an organization without true leaders and inspiring people who establish clear expectations and remove obstacles it’s truly part of the algorithm for success.

Jeff

Instructional and Learning Experience Design

Jeff@mojocat.com

The Cat made me buy it – Mojocat

IMG_4157.JPGI am often asked what the origin of the name Mojocat is. The truth is it’s multifaceted so I often give an abridged version. Back in hight school I studied Radio broadcasting at the Yakima Valley Vocational Skills Center. Evan though being a DJ was the most sexy part of radio I was fascinated with the advertising part of radio. I think one reason was that I seemed to have a knack for creating the commercials especially voicing them. I enjoyed doing character voices. Most days during class when I was not on the air you would find me in the control room voicing promos or just goofing off playing with the tape recorder.  I gained a fascination for the storytelling aspect of advertising. I was always researching and learning about advertising approaches or the story behind the creative. My carrier as a radio star was short lived but I did spend a great deal of time in the advertising world including selling radio advertising for on of Seattles last top 40 station.

My career as some point took some turns and I ended up becoming a graphic artist working on print advertising as well as online. I enjoyed learning about branding and using characters to sell products. One time as I was browsing thrift shops I ran across this book titled The Cat Made Me Buy It. I purchased it because it fascinated me that there where so many incidences where cats where used for branding. There are many philosophies as to why cats where good for branding. Cats are strong yet they have a soft side as well. They are dark and mysterious yet the are also loving and playful. The one that I identify with these days as my brand has survived so many evolutions if of course cats have nine lives. This fits Mojocat to a T. mojocat is a survivor. We survived the dot com startup boom and bust. I have the scars to prove it.

add- 90s.pngIn parallel when we where looking for a name for our web design business in the 90’s the name Mojocat just kind of came from nowhere. Ok there was more than likely a few microbrews involved in the multiple creative sessions that produced the name. Some of the details are a bit foggy but it goes a little something like this. Mojo is magic. You see the guys who started the original Mojocat with me all shared a love for music. Not the Austin powers mojo but the mojo that comes from Muddy Waters, Jim Morrison and the Beatles. As designers and developers we like to think that we could work magic. Now what about the cats. We where the cats. The Mojocats. Then lets look at that again. CAT what did we do? The cats that is. Well to go a bit further. We created the acronym CAT Creative Approaches to Technology.  Well there you go Mojocat!

That’s the story, the legend if you will. Now stand back and let us work our magic!

~mojo

Mojocat.com site update

Mojocat_logo_2017I am excited to announce that I am relaunching www.mojocat.com with the refocus on video production, motion graphics and interactive media. The difference is I’m splitting my branding up.

I will point my domain  www.jefftillett.com to my old digital resume

Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 4.55.10 PMfocusing on my instructional design career. The domain www.mojocat.com will be focused on my business Mojocat Creative Services. The new Mojocat site is draft one of a site build on WordPress. I have plans on taking this site to the next level but for now I am hoping this simple site will do. I think it does a pretty good job of explaining who Mojocat is and what we do. As acompanion to the domain Mojocat I will leverage the Facebook page www.facebook.com/mojocatcs/

Have I confused anyone yet? I hope not.

~mojo

Hats off to this series of blog posts by Intrepid Learning.

BlogImage_DeclModernLearnerRights

Series: Declaration of Modern Learner Rights blog posts VIA – Intrepid Learning

I just ran across this great series of blog entries from my friends at Intrepid Learning by Sam Herring on LinkedIn. Besides being a local company here in Seattle I’ve always respected the great work they do. I was first introduced to their work while I was at T-Mobile. I also respect their accessibility locally and involvement in ATD. Sam Herring who is CEO at Intrepid served on the ATD board of directors for 4 years and made big contributions to the learning community. Here is an interview I did with Sam for the ATD Puget Sound 2012 Workplace Learning Conference.

 

There are some really great blog articles in this series. I recommend you check them out and sign up to follow their blog. Don’t forget to download the cool infographic from the blog article I ♥ infographics . Enjoy!

https://www.intrepidlearning.com/blog/series-declaration-modern-learner-rights-blog-posts

~mojo

 

Myth busted – The Golden Ratio

5d1c4952-47e9-49f5-b0b0-429f5f5c50c7-largeI am sharing an good article that looks at the design rule called The Golden Ratio. I have always felt that where there is a rule there is an exception. When it comes to design I think it’s always good to know the rules, accept them as starting points or guidelines then follow your gut. Lets face it what people find aesthetically appealing is subjective anyways.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder right? enjoy,

~mojo

Here is the article on fastcodesign.com
The Golden Ratio: Design’s Biggest Myth