Behind the Buzzwords

From the Source's Mouth - The Human Side of Crowdsourcing

Who better to capture the essence of crowdsourcing than a cog in the machine itself? We turned to users of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service to get a snapshot of the human experience behind all the buzz, asking respondents to “tell us about your first crowdsourcing experience.” Here’s what one respondent told us:

Respondent # A2SWU4Z04QF8LV:

The first time I Crowdsourced, I wrote catalog descriptions. I felt a little like Elaine writing for the J. Peterman catalog.  It was fun and intriguing, and, as I’m a teacher, I enjoyed the opportunity to make use of my downtime during the summer. Since last year, I’ve continued to complete HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks) to pay for my Kindle books and my daughter’s Amazon movies. I go through cycles – lots of “turking,” and then droughts of not doing any. No matter the topic, I enjoy the writing and I like the little things that Crowdsource does that make us workers feel like we are a community – appreciated, even if we don’t really know each other at all.

I am intrigued by the Human Intelligence Tasks, as well as the destination of my work. Where are our individual contributions posted, or pieced together?  Who are the people behind the anonymous interface – the people who contract with Crowdsource to gather the bits and pieces that we offer them?

This weekend, I’m planning on taking the top-tier qualification test that Crowdsource offers. I’m excited to have the opportunity to write more in the future – someday, even full-time. Some may feel that the Mechanical Turk system takes advantage of people who will write for next-to-nothing.  I do not have that feeling about Crowdsource at all. I don’t expect to get rich completing these tasks. I value the variety of exercises and wide range of topics that make the experience a worthwhile way to practice my writing.

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About the Author

Amazon Mechanical Turk

Digital automation and computation are certainly the way of the future, but for some tasks, even the most powerful supercomputer can’t match up to the ingenuity and creativity of the human brain. Amazon Mechanical Turk harnesses this intelligence through a dispersed digital platform, connecting businesses and developers to processing power and talent that’s truly human.