Last week I was at the Sentiment Symposium in New York presenting the afternoon keynote on “Engagement: The Unspoken Connection“. It was my first time attending and I would strongly recommend it. It was a very intimate event of what looked like a couple of hundred people, with the first day being a series of technical sessions with more business-centric presentations on the second day. The caliber of presenters and attendees was very high and I thoroughly enjoyed both the sessions and the between session conversations. The agenda was organized to leave plenty of time for networking and this worked really well. All in all, a really nice event which guarantees to deliver something for everyone.
Now for some of my personal highlights (just a very small smattering of the great stuff that was presented):
- Professor Stephen Pulman of Oxford University was very impressive, both as an individual and in terms of his research and technology. He presented a couple of sessions which I thoroughly enjoyed; one of the first day entitled “Compositional Sentiment Analysis” and one on the second day called “Bleeding Edge NLP: Extract & Analyze Events, Relationships, Emotion, Intent, Identity, and Lots of Other Good Stuff”. His research has been spun-off into a start-up called TheySay.
- Professor Rosalind Picard of the MIT Media Lab presented a really engaging session entitled “Adventures in Emotion Recognition” where she introduced us to her facial recognition research which has resulted in the first online automated facial affect recognition service. This service, affdex powered by Affectiva, has over a million facial expression videos from people opting in to express their feelings by having the camera watch them while they watch online media.
- Nick Poore gave a great lightening talk on “Do it yourself Analytics” where in 5 mins he managed to demonstrate (live) the creation of a cloud twitter analytics solution (with visualization). He was using a cloud tooling environment that IBM has built called Beacon that runs on the new IBM Bluemix environment. And I’m not just calling him out because he is an IBMer, I just have to give kudos to anyone who puts themselves out there to run a live demo, particularly when it was as outrageously ambitious as this one was. Way to go Nick!
- David Rabjohns of MotiveQuest presented an engaging session entitled “Mapping Human Motivations to Move Product” which looked to the motives that drive customer behavior and helped organizations better understand the characteristics of their target customer.
- Adrienne Andrew, a Research Scientist at ARO Inc (a life logging company), shared her perspective on how context can transform people analytics. I’m personally very interested in the potential role of life logging solutions in helping us capture and persist physical events that we can then integrate into our own personal digital memories (cyber-memory – fact or fiction?). This session raised some lively dialog on the privacy and ethical considerations of gathering personal data, a conversation I believe we need to see more of across social forums.
- I have to give a big call-out to Chris Boudreaux of Accenture who had a nightmare of scenario where his bags were lost en-route to the event and he landed on the stage minus presentation. Despite lack of props he still managed to engage the audience with a practical set of recommendations and advise for mastering social intelligence. A thumbs up for Chris!
- Scott Hendrickson, Principle Data Scientist at Gnip, gave a good practical session on building real-time analytics with his session entitled “Strategies for Successful Sentiment Analysis of Realtime Social Data”.
- Unfortunately I missed the session from Jacob Whitehill, Engineer and Research Scientist at Emotient, entitled “Automatic Facial Expression Recognition for Emotion-Aware Computing”, however I heard a lot of positive feedback from people I trust and hence I wanted to give it a call-out.