Mechanical Serfdom Is Just That

Posted on February 5, 2011. Filed under: Business, Technology |

I spent a day crowdsourcing for Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and all I have to show for eight hours in an online work marketplace is a measly $4.38

By Rachael King

It’s 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning and I’m ready to make some money. The coffee’s kicking in and I’ve logged on to’s (AMZN) Mechanical Turk. It’s an online marketplace that matches workers with employers willing to pay on a per-piece basis for such tasks as verifying addresses, transcribing interviews, and translating text. 

I’m no stranger to grunt work. I worked my way through college. Early in my subsequent career, I held stints as an editorial assistant—which meant a lot of typing, photocopying, and schlepping lattes for editors in exchange for the occasional byline.

None of that could have prepared me for Mechanical Turk, which posts jobs—known as “Human Intelligence Tasks”—in a format that resembles a job board.

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