outsource your monotonous tasks using an API

Note: This post might be a little dated. It was published in December 2006.

mechanical turk

Want your podcast audio transcribed each week automatically? Got a big image database that needs meta tagging? Well the future’s here, and you only need to pay a few cents per item.

Enter the mechanical turk, which everybody seems to be talking about at the moment. It’s a fancy name for hiring in a bunch of temps to do a bunch of 60 second jobs for you, via the web (and via an API if you’re a programmer).

Apparently there are thousands of people out there willing to take on your monotonous tasks for a pittance. The great thing is, you never have to meet them, deal with pesky employee rights like minimum wage, or look at their faces gradually crumple in the drudgery of the job you have given them, since it’s all done using the wonderful anonymity of the internet.

As a mechanical turk worker you just log into a website like Amazon’s, select a job and start doing it, all through your web browser. Each task pays just a few cents but if you take on tricker tasks, you end up with a small supplementary income. Translation of foreign language audio to English text pays pretty well. After a year you might be able to buy yourself… something small.

I don’t know about you but I find this quite depressing. Read more at the mechanical turk monitor blog.

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