What the “Crowd-Work” Economy Taught Me About Community

The Perks and Pitfalls of Digital-Era Piece Work

If you’ve never heard of Amazon Mechanical Turk, my workplace of the last 11 years, you’re not alone. Most people know about Amazon—the massive conglomerate where you can do everything from buy a book to put your online store into the cloud. Fewer know about Mechanical Turk, the crowd-work platform Amazon owns and runs. But mTurk is worth knowing about. Amazon claims that more than 500,000 people work there, and crowd-work is a growing industry, encroaching on fields from journalism to medical diagnosis.

What does “crowd-work platform” mean? Basically, Mechanical …