[iDC] Thinking about digital piecework and research/ers

Kristy Milland kmilland at ryerson.ca
Tue Oct 7 01:12:29 UTC 2014

As to the final question, here's a response by 
Turkers to researchers leveraging us as a study 
pool: http://guidelines.wearedynamo.org/

At 05:20 PM 10/06/2014, Nathan Schneider wrote:
>Thanks so much for raising the question of 
>digital piecework research, Sarah. I am very 
>interested in this issue, and am currently 
>reporting a story about it for the Chronicle of 
>Higher Education. I would love to talk with 
>people who have had direct experience with 
>crowdsourcing as a research method—positive, 
>negative, and everything in between. If anyone 
>on this list is interested in discussing what 
>they've seen for a potential story in the Chronicle, contact me off-thread.
>Where have people been seeing this kind of 
>practice taking place? Has there been any 
>evidence about how the results might compare to, 
>say, using undergraduates? And how has this kind 
>of crowdsourcing been a part of efforts to do 
>organizing in, say, the Mechanical Turk community?
>Nathan Schneider / therowboat.com
>in Proof / 
><http://www.therowboat.com/books/thank-you-anarchy>Thank You, Anarchy
>[ <http://www.therowboat.com/nathan-at-therowboat.com.asc>public key ]
>On 10/06/2014 02:53 PM, Sarah T. Roberts wrote:
>>Greetings, all -
>>I recently asked a question on the #dl14 
>>Facebook page and thought I’d send it out to 
>>all on the list. As a researcher actively 
>>engaged in trying to bring to light the 
>>economic and labor realities of people working 
>>in digital piecework contexts, I have been 
>>disturbed that people, often my own peers 
>>(e.g., parties from my graduate school 
>>department), turn to services like Mechanical 
>>Turk and others to provide large-scale 
>>processing of tasks related to research 
>>projects, with seemingly little or no 
>>interrogation or critique of the economy upon 
>>which they are relying to conduct their 
>>research. While I’m sure the way these 
>>projects get past ethics boards is due to the 
>>compensation that the projects provide, there 
>>is such minimal accountability and ability for 
>>either researcher or subject to follow 
>>up/follow through once the research task is 
>>completed that it seems a dangerous practice in 
>>which to engage. This is even before we enter 
>>into a critique of these platforms, in gene
>>  ral.
>>When I brought this up on Fb, I asked if anyone 
>>coming to #dl14 might be working on this topic. 
>>One person responded that she’s not working 
>>directly on it, but is interested in it and 
>>wants to talk more about it. It would be great 
>>to get a discussion going on the list that 
>>could then spill over into our time together in NYC.
>>Anyone interested?
>>S a r a h  T.  R o b e r t s,  P h. D.
>>Assistant Professor
>>Faculty of Information and Media Studies (FIMS)
>>Western University
>>Blogging periodically at
>>iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity
>>List Archive:
>iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity
>List Archive:
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