Fixing the Chaotic Crowdworker Economy
A registry would help employers find good online workers and workers find honest employers.
For two years, I have been part of a research team studying the lives of “crowdworkers” — people who perform online jobs that range from tweaking algorithms, which improve the performance of search engines, to inputting and organizing doctor’s visit notes. We interviewed hundreds of people in the U.S. and India who are doing the digital piecework required to make the Internet seem magically automated.
Crowdwork represents a small but rapidly growing microclimate in the ecosystem known as platform economies. These business activities are burgeoning through the ties that bind the Internet, smartphone apps and social networks. It’s hard to believe, but we have no accurate headcount of this workforce, even though economists estimate it could make up almost 30 percent of the U.S. labor market by 2035. The boss here is not a midlevel manager but an “application programming interface,” or API, software deployed through a cloud-based web platform.