In one of the more bizarre beta tests I’ve ever seen on the Web, Amazon has launched something called “Amazon Mechanical Turk“.
In a nutshell, you can go to the site and perform trivial tasks for Amazon that humans can do better than computers — like identifying photos — and get paid by the task for doing it. In other words, digital piecework.
I gave it a try and performed six HITs (human intelligence tasks). Each, if approved, will pay three cents into my Amazon account. By my crude reckoning, if I get paid for all six, I’d be making about $3.60 an hour (pre-tax). What fascinates me — aside from the creativity on display here and the fact that this is technically less than minimum wage — is that Amazon has figured out how to take the outsourcing trend to its ultimate extreme, which I’ll call Webshoring. It doesn’t have to care which country the worker is in, as long as the work gets done and there is no management overhead. Wow – or Not.
WOO HOO! A PENNY! PACK UP THE KIDS, ‘LENA, WE’RE GOING TO MAUI!