Turkopticon: Interrupting Worker Invisibility in Amazon Mechanical Turk

This paper considers the role of platforms in convening crowd-workers to challenge and contest their working conditions.

Amazon Mechanical Turk, a popular human computation system, is a site of technically mediated worker-employer relations. This paper argues that human computation - the process through which labour is mediated by a computer - currently relies on worker invisibility. Turkopticon is an activist system that allows workers to publicise and evaluate their relationships with their employers through the platform. As a common infrastructure, Turkopticon also enables workers to engage one another in mutual aid. The paper concludes by discussing the potentials and challenges of sustaining activist technologies that intervene in large, existing socio-technical systems.

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