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Amazonian Mechanical Turk: the Matrix meets modern day Labour Exchange!

Amazon Mechanical Turk – Welcome

Just caught up with this and have barely stopped chuckling. What a stupendous idea! This is what happens when you gather lots and lots of great people together under one organisational roof, but don’t tell them simply to beaver away at one single mission. It’s clear that Amazon wishes to become the Merchant General of the web, but this takes a massive additional step, to become the Labour Exchange for the planet!

At play here is the disaggregation of labour “units” from “career” down to “job” down to “project” down to “days” and now down to “HIT” or “Human Intelligence Task”. Surely this is the apotheosis of the freelance, global, web-linked Knowledge Worker?

or, or any other number of project exchanges, this is more akin to a ticket-based support/help-desk system in that the items offered for HIT activity are so granluar.

There are the usual refinements one would expect from an Amazon service: the notion of embeding the requests into a request ‘language’ (nice – could be the start of a universal project/task request language…), a sensible approach to qualification (a munge of history, scoring, peer review and reputation).

I’m going to keep an eye on this since it could have a major impact on the way people consider the provision of information services. For example, Business Link for London, where I’m a non-exec director, provides information, diagnosis and brokerage services to London’s enterprise community – linking their needs to support growth with accredited providers of support. The “Turk” approach could certainly inform the way we look at this real world service conceptually, as well as providing a paradigm for the provision of granular or ‘just in time’ support – ie moving beyond the day rate or the formal, larger-scale project.

Days like this I just love the web.