Posted by: Rob Hof on November 4, 2005
Amazon.com is quietly testing another interesting innovation, this time tapping into the Power of Us. The cheeky geeks there call it the Mechanical Turk, after an 18th century hoax, a mannequin that appeared to play chess. Visit the site, and you can complete little tasks offered up by Amazon and potentially its partners and get paid a few cents for them. For example, you can click on a request to decide which of several photos in a Yellow Pages listing on Amazon’s A9 search site best illustrates that particular business. Then you get 3 cents added to your Amazon account, where you can transfer it to your checking account.
You sure won’t get rich doing this, but it could have great potential for tapping into the wisdom of crowds for things like photo selection or product descriptions that just can’t be automated. Commenters at Digg.com explore some of the implications, some calling it slave labor and others saying they find it strangely addictive. Said one: “It’s so lame, and yet, I can’t stop doing it! AAAAHHHHH!!!” Amazon may be onto something here.