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Human Element Inc – Crowdwork services for everyday life

Created by Stephan Bogner and Philipp SchmittHuman Element Inc. investigates how crowdwork, such as Amazon MechanicalTurk, might be woven into everyday life in the future— and explores the topic through three speculative crowdwork services.

The project addresses this in three different speculations: Crowdwork as a method for payment (or direct creation of value), crowdwork workstations for public space and possible devices that let anyone become a requester and put the crowd to work.

Millions of crowdworkers are helping the digital world run smoothly by solving the problems that computers can’t solve just yet. Among many other tasks they categorize images, transcribe texts and filter out explicit content. Ironically, by doing so they also train the algorithms which will replace them eventually. How would everyday life be affected if this digital piecework was woven into it?


Workwall invites readers to solve a series of simple tasks to get access to the full article.

For investigating crowdwork as a method of payment, Bogner and Phillip have created Workwall: Complete Task To Continue, which becomes a payment method for small payments. For example, online content providers owners today struggle with adblockers and advertising revenues. The concept ‘Workwall’ proposes an alternative where publishers could ask readers solve a series of simple tasks for all kinds of clients. Each one is worth a few cents that go to the newspaper. In return, you get access to the full article. First device however, Spare-Cycle-Workstation: Make Money While You Wait, is a public space workstation that lets anyone monetize unused cognitive abilities — for example during their daily commute, in the doctor’s waiting room or in the time after work. Workstations can be equipped with sensors or controls tailored to specific types of tasks. As crowdwork taps into more and more aspects of being human, well-paid tasks might require the measurement of body chemistry or detection of eye movement.


↑ Workstation lets anyone monetize unused cognitive abilities — for example during their daily commute, in the doctor’s waiting room or in the time after work.

Second device titled Employing Scanner: Tap To Outsource is an example for a radical simplification of a requester interface, so that anyone can make use of the crowd. With the tap of a button you can hire people to make your life easier. You take a document, highlight a section, add a command and scan. It will summarize, spell-check, transcribe, trace, email, … everything you wished somebody else would do for you.


↑ Employing Scannerprovides radical simplification of a requester interface, so that anyone can make use of the crowd.

Created with Quartz Composer with Origami and Apple Keynote for prototypes. UI Animations were created using After Effects.

This project is a Bachelor Thesis in Interaction Design by Philipp Schmitt & Stephan Bogner at
Hochschule für Gestaltung Schwäbisch Gmünd, July 2016. You can download the full documentation of the project here → Thesis Documentation [German, 197 pages, 43.5mb].

Project Page | Stephan Bogner | Philipp Schmitt

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