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.