Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams.
New York: Penguin, 2007.
The Amazon Mechanical Turk is an online platform on which employers can post ‘Human Intelligence Tasks’ (HITs) that are searched by prosumers looking for paid employment who select and perform these knowledge tasks with the help of their computers, submit the results, and then get paid. ‘Developers use the Amazon Mechanical Turk web service to submit tasks to the Amazon Mechanical Turk website, approve completed tasks, and incorporate the answers into their software applications. To the application, the transaction looks very much like any remote procedure call: the application sends the request, and the service returns the results. Behind the scenes, a network of humans fuels this artificial intelligence by coming to the web site, searching for and completing tasks, and receiving payment for their work’ (mturk.com FAQs, accessed on November 23, 2007). The reward per task ranges between zero, a few cents (in most cases), and some dollars. One example of an HIT assignment is to determine the presence of opinion in a text article and submit the result, e.g., ‘Your task is to read the news article or blog post below and determine whether it is editorial in nature or is an expression of opinion, and whether it is positive, negative, or neutral’ (mturk.com, accessed on November 23, 2007). Multiple users will input their results which will be used by the task assigner who aggregates and sells the results as a commodity. The example is characteristic for what Tapscott and Williams celebrate as Wikinomics – an online economy based on networking, peering, and collaboration.