Microwork – extending crowdsourcing to the emerging world

14 Jun

Crowdsourcing is a way of connecting online workers with people needing to get a simple but time consuming work done quickly and cheaply. Tasks are posted through online job-boards where individuals from around the world can apply to do them on-line for a fee offered by the contractor.

The most popular one is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk named after an 18th-century chess-playing machine in which a human secretly moved the pieces. The Economist recently published an interesting article on how this concept can be used for example in social research by employing volunteers globally to participate in psychological experiments.

When I was choosing a charity to donate to through OneLeap (see my previous post), I came across an amazing organization called Samasource which extends the concept of crowdsourcing to people in emerging countries – calling it microwork.

Through its network of computer hubs, it allows capable yet poor people to complete simple tasks such as typing up business cards or basic database management. Companies give Samasource work to be done, it than chops it up into small tasks and sends them to poor people in their network for completion. Once finished, it than checks the results, puts them back together and sends the finished work to its clients. While saving costs to large companies, it most importantly greatly improves employment and earning opportunities for otherwise poor people disconnected from the global job market.

You can have a look at their website here.

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