n. A short, simple task that a company outsources for a small fee, particularly to workers in the third world.
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Microwork gives marginalized people a chance to earn a living by playing a vital role in the business processes of big companies. In parallel, the organization assists local entrepreneurs in running microwork centers, helping to grow a new pool of business talent across the developing world.
—Leila Janah Charyath, “Human Intelligence is a Green Export: an Interview with Samasource's Leila Janah,” Examiner.com, April 10, 2011
This has developed into a new line of business for Amazon, called Mechanical Turk, which brings together people seeking online piecework with employers looking to farm out tasks. The infoDev report reckons there are now around 100 such online labour exchanges: there’s now a word for them in Chinese, witkey. Some crowdsourced tasks are long and complex, and require special skills. But many are simple and quick, and the software tools needed to perform them are provided for the worker—this sort of task is known as "microwork".
—“Jobs of the future,” The Economist, April 07, 2011
2008 (earliest)
And so, that is something that a human can usually do very, very quickly. And so, we built this service called Mechanical Turk and it's really for organizing micro work for $0.01 or $0.02 or $0.03, we can get somebody to look at those two detail pages on our Web site, and say, yes, these are the same products.
—Jeff Bezos, “Amazon.com, Inc. Shareholders Meeting,” Fair Disclosure Wire, May 29, 2008
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