HIT me baby one more time, Or: How I learned to stop worrying and love Amazon Mechanical Turk
Aaron Shaw, Berkman Center Fellow
What is Amazon Mechanical Turk? Why on earth would anybody do piece rate jobs over the Internet for a nickel a pop? Are the results of AMT work any good? Isn't it true that distributed labor markets will bring about the end of civilization as we know it? How can I use Mechanical Turk to acquire friends, riches, and wisdom?
Amazon Mechnical Turk (or AMT) presents an especially dynamic and controversial example of Crowdsourcing. An online labor market that makes it possible for employers to offer micro-payments to a geographically distributed pool of “Turkers” in exchange for work on "Human Intelligence Tasks" (called HITs), AMT has successfully created possibilities for distributed labor of all kinds. At the same time, AMT raises tough questions about the ethics of “human computing,” outsourcing, information workers' rights, and the value of human intelligence.
In this week's installment of the Berkman Center luncheon series Aaron Shaw will discuss who's using AMT, its implications for social scientists, the future of labor markets, and life on the Internet as we know it. Along the way, he'll present research-in-progress from the Berkman Center's own Online Cooperation Research and their ongoing study of cooperative human systems.
Aaron Shaw is a Research Fellow with the Cooperation Research Group at the Berkman Center and a Ph.D student in the Sociology Department at the University of California, Berkeley.
While at Berkman, Aaron has helped design, implement, and manage the online cooperation studies project. His ongoing dissertation examines the institutional foundations of collaborative communities online. In previous research, Aaron has written about the politics of development and Free and Open Source Software in Brazil, where he has conducted fieldwork and interviews during the past two years. His other interests include the networked public sphere, global governance and development, the knowledge-based economy, distributed research methods, and social theory.