According to my theory of Disaggregation, the Internet’s main direct effect on society is to act as a catalyst for a restructuring of organizational structures. This reorganization will be from a geographical organization (Factories are limited to the pool of labor in their city) to an intellectual organization (people from around the world connect to each other via the Internet). I believe we are seeing this happening in more and more industries. One of the questions I still have though is how far will that effect reach?
This is important because the school system is one of the largest geographically based structures in society. As such, a disruptive change there will have far reaching implications. In order to quantify the extents of the disaggregation effect, I watch other industries. Today I saw this article about micro tasks.
A micro task is a job that takes only a few minutes to complete. It is usually something simple and yet difficult enough that computers can’t do it yet. Most often the micro task is only one of many other tasks that then contribute to a larger job. Amazon.com has a website called the Mechanical Turk which allows people to sign up and start doing these simple tasks. Pay is usually very small, sometimes less than a dollar per task but if you do enough tasks it can start to add up.
So here are some observations.
- How long will it be before you can have your homework done by somebody online? Actually you can already do it but it will become much easier as more classes (and homework) goes online.
- This idea also fits into my theory that the Internet is going to empower the creative like never before. You could have an idea for a new product, then split the creation of it into a hundred little jobs. These could then be farmed out to the best people on the net. Assuming you have the initial money to pay them, you then have a product but no workforce.
- This is going to appeal to businesses for several reasons but a big one would be you don’t have to pay benefits. These are a huge fixed cost that companies want to get rid of.
In my thinking about this article, I had a bit of a brain storm about Disaggregation which I’ll go over on Friday. Turn in then, as it’s a bit of a crazy idea!
- Capitalism’s Brave New World | The Weekly Standard
Big article about disaggregation of work tasks
Tired of journalism’s glamour and prestige, I decided to take a second job last week. I went to Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk website—a sort of virtual job fair matching thousands of businesses and online workers—and got a microtasking gig. It didn’t take long. I filled out a few forms, proved I was a live, human being with a functional email address, and Amazon put me to work. My first assignment was for an employer called “CrowdSource” and the task was to type a provided search term into Google, click on the first result, and copy that page’s URL into my work page.
Work is reduced to its purest components and as a result, opportunities for both employers and employees are increased.
It’s worth appreciating the breadth of the change microtasking represents. It breaks up jobs into astonishingly small tasks—a job might take a minute, an hour, or a day. Imagine an assembly line that can be de-constructed and dispersed so that, instead of having to clock in for an eight-hour shift, workers can be paid by the piece. They show up to the line and do as much, or as little, work as they like. Yet because the line is decentralized over a large network of potential employees, it always runs smoothly.
Microtasking also obliterates geography—you can work from a bar in midtown Manhattan, a basement in Montana, or a brothel in Manila. And it wipes out the entire universe of credentials and gatekeeping. Gone are wasted years at Big State and master’s degrees in Lesbian Poets of West Africa. The Mechanical Turk makes jobs available to anyone willing to work.
Microtasking allows even relatively small businesses to scale a workforce up or down as needed. A startup company in Seattle with 3 employees can hire 1,000 people for an afternoon of work on a big task—at a moment’s notice. Then, when the job is done, it can instantly downsize.