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Innovation Economy

The promise, and peril, of micro-labor websites

Diane Hohen of TaskRabbit delivered a bouquet of flowers last week. TaskRabbit has a team of errand-runners for small jobs. Diane Hohen of TaskRabbit delivered a bouquet of flowers last week. TaskRabbit has a team of errand-runners for small jobs. (Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff)
By Scott Kirsner
Globe Correspondent / April 1, 2012
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What is a Turker? It’s someone who performs small tasks that can’t be automated. Once you sign up on the Mechanical Turk website, operated by Amazon.com, you can choose from an array of jobs that might take a few seconds or a few hours: you can translate documents from Tibetan to English, fill out surveys for academic researchers, or transcribe a 71-minute lecture about gastroenterology. How’s the pay? That last task offered $2.85 for work that would likely take several hours.

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