I recently interviewed Sharon Chiarella for The AWS Report. Sharon is an Amazon Vice President with responsibility for the Amazon Mechanical Turk. After we talked about the Mechanical Turk concept in general terms ("a marketplace for work,") we zoomed in and talked about the kinds of work that is being done and who's doing it:
Sharon told me that the most popular kinds of work are transcription, writing, data cleansing, sentiment analysis, and moderation. She connected data cleansing to big data in an interesting way; I learned that data cleansing is an essential noise reduction tool, especially when processing data that has been aggregated from multiple sources, as is the case with the Amazon.com product catalog.
We also discussed the Mechanical Turk workforce (500,000 people in 190 countries, with obvious hotspots in the US, India, Canada, and the UK and some not-so-obvious ones such as Kenya) and the fact that they are generally well-educated. Demographically, the workers value the flexibility that Mechanical Turk affords them: they can choose what they work on, how much work they want to do, and when they want to do it. The workforce include stay-at-home mothers, retirees, and also students.
I enjoyed our talk, and look forward to bringing you additional interviews on The AWS Report.