Topics: Outsourcing, Crowdsourcing, Human-based computation Pages: 4 (1953 words) Published: April 12, 2013
Where would you go if you needed to find hundreds of people each willing to take on a tiny portion of a large task for minimal pay? Projects like these include filling out surveys, verifying or entering data, writing articles, and transcribing audio files. They are increasingly common in the digital age, so you might turn to an online marketplace such as, CrowdFlower, or Amazon’s Mechanical Turk where people around the globe go to find work. Daniel Maloney, an AOL executive, recently turned to crowdsourcing for help inventorying AOL’s vast video library. (Note: This definition of crowdsourcing differs from the one used in Chapter 5 to describe crowdsourcing as a way to spur innovation). He broke the large job into micro-tasks and described the tasks that he needed to be done on Mechanical Turk. In particular, each worker was asked to find Web pages containing a video and identify the video’s source and location on those pages. The over half a million workers that were registered at Mechanical Turk could read about the tasks and decide if they wanted to perform them. Using the crowdsourcing service, the AOL project took less than a week to get up and running, and only a couple of months to reach completion. The total cost was about as much as it would have been to hire two temp workers for the same period. Mr. Maloney was pleased with the cost savings and added: “We had a very high number of pages we needed to process. Being able to tap into a scaled work force was massively helpful.” However, he really didn’t know very much about the workers who did the work for AOL and he likely had to make sure that their work was done correctly. Critics of crowdsourcing feel it can lead to “digital sweatshops,” where workers, many of whom may be underage, put in long hours to generate very little pay and no benefits. Some also feel crowdsourcing will eliminate full-time jobs. The crowdsourcing marketplace services counter that they are trying to register...
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