Reading Fred Wilson this morning, I found out about Amazon’s new Mechanical Turk service. (In a side note here, I am realizing that blogs like Fred’s have become my primary source of professional news. The losers include websites and newsletters, including Venture Wire – Alarm:Clock is much better – , atNewYork, Wired, Fast Company and a ton of human capital-related newsletters I had subscibed to in the past.)
Mechanical Turk is brilliant. It reminded me of Jay Walker’s US HomeGuard, without the big-brothery implications. (I presume Walker could not sell his idea to the Homeland Security folks, since I have not seen any press on it in a long while.) I am curious to see if distributed collaboration will work more effectively in micro-chunks, as in the MT system, rather than large projects, as in eLance or Guru.com.
Also, the MT is a nice example how companies that have developed as platforms, especially with financial relationships with their users (such as eBay and Amazon), cnn jump into new areas with their user base. In no time, Amazon has it’s own PayPal with credits going into its users’ accounts. Reminds me of how large mobile operators have effectively launched their own currencies (with pre-paid cards and billing relationships with their customers) in developing countries.
One thought on “Humans of the World, Unite!”
I agree – I think the API is brilliant, if a bit ahead of its time. They get all the benefits of outsourcing without most of the disadvantages. Also, the potential applications of the API are exciting; if Amazon can capture 10% of all interactions in the “micro-task” market, they’ve hit a home run thanks to understanding the long tail.
(I think MT was born out of necessity though – Amazon needed to find a cheap way to keep their photos and content relevant for their A9 service, and I suspect this was their solution).