[iDC] From Mechanical Turk to Web-based worker surveillance

Sam Ladner samladner at gmail.com
Thu Jun 25 12:14:23 UTC 2009

Hi folks,

I've been lurking and frankly, do a poor job of it. There's simply too much
on the list to take in! So I read a bit here and there and read some on the
mechancial turk phenomenon, and the MySpace layoffs.

Of interest in today's New York Times is a story on "freelancing" (a
misnomer if I ever heard one, but that's another post). The angle of the
article is that more small businesses are signing up for "high-end" services
such as Web design, precisely because they can now afford it through
Web-enabled freelancing sites such as oDesk.

Buried well near the end of the story, oDesk actually takes a snapshots of a
"freelancer's" workstation for the "client" 6 times a day.


I'm reminded of Marglin's famous article, "What do bosses do?" His answer:
they control. Are Web-enabled "freelancing" sites the new "factory system"?

Sam Ladner, PhD
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