Crowded

crowded

The Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is … a crowdsourcing marketplace that enables computer programs to co-ordinate the use of human intelligence to perform tasks which computers are unable to do. Requesters, the human beings that write these programs, are able to pose tasks known as HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks), such as choosing the best among several photographs of a storefront, writing product descriptions, or identifying performers on music CDs. Workers … can then browse among existing tasks and complete them for a monetary payment set by the Requester.via wikipedia

Crowded is an as-yet unreleased radio show/podcast that is made up of segments of audio recorded by Mechanical Turk workers.  Each episode has a mechanism, such as:

  1. Workers listen to a series of songs, choose one that reminds them of an event in their life, and then tell that story.  The stories are then combined and played on top of the song that they chose.
  2. Workers are encouraged to call me and have an argument about a topic I give them.  I edit myself out, leaving only one side of the argument.
  3. Workers are asked to call and tell a story/reminisce about something that never actually happened to them.
  4. Workers are provided with a conference call line and a character to play.  Two or more workers call in and have to play their character.

The workers call in and are given, on average, $5-$8 to send an audio recording that fits the mechanism.  They are given the option of calling a US phone number and leaving a message, or recording themselves on HoundBite or YouTube.

After doing several projects using crowdsourcing, I wanted to do a project that was about the faceless people who are doing these tasks.  Who are they?  Where do they come from?  Why do they do these jobs?

You could argue that I am still just using them and not really humanizing them so much as exploiting their willingness to tell personal stories for a few bucks.  But you can argue a lot of things.