A Decade of Working with the Working Crowd

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Shamik Ghosh’s son, Soham, in the Mechanical Olympics, 2008-18.

I am pleased to be included in a special issue of the Journal of Media-N, “Humans are Underrated: Art and Labor after Amazon” edited by Johanna Gosse. My contribution, “A Decade of Working with the Working Crowd” narrates ten years of working creatively with digital laborers on Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk (Mturk) website.

Abstract

In this contribution to the Media-N special issue, “Humans Are Underrated: Art & Labor in the Amazon Economy,” I narrate creative projects that disrupt or interfere with the Mechanical Turk platform. My place as an artist and employer in the elastic workforce since 2008 has given me a close and nuanced view of life online in the virtual workplace. The jobs I have created on the platform ask workers to perform athletic events, create videos, meditate, and talk back to Jeff Bezos. The materials I collect from the workers are integrated into art works that amplify the visibility of the workers and their unique voices. This article shows how those “underrated” humans in the Amazon economy are creative, thoughtful, and intelligent.

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