I just placed my first HIT (Human Intelligence Task) on Amazon. If you haven’t heard of Mechanical Turk, it is basically a way to hire people who want to work from home to perform human tasks that are not easily programmable by computers. There are a lot of companies that are using this service to perform various types of content analysis on media from websites to video surveillance images. The Mechanical Olympics is a web-based project inspired by Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk, “A marketplace for work that requires human intelligence.”
This project uses Mechanical Turk to activate that “elastic workforce” by performing human sports and entertainment activities. For this project, I will be paying the mechanical turk workforce to create a ceremony opening song for the 2008 Olympic Games, and then for various competitive sporting events throughout August. The Mechanical Olympic tasks include running, riding a bike, lifting any amount of weight, swimming, gymnastics, and so on. My workers will be posting videos of their work on YouTube and then on this blog. At the end of each day from August 9th – 24th, anyone can use the online poll to vote the event winners. My goal is to have an online version of the Olympic Games drafted from the Mechanical Turk workforce. Where an elastic workforce is meant to harness human intelligence to produce repetitive results online, I want to use the Amazon Turk system to get people off of their machines. I am literally paying people to run around the block, ride a bike, or make a song. Hopefully at $2 a hit, I’ll get a few takers on my offer.