Crowdsourcing and ‘the glass cage’

I’m reading The Glass Cage by Nicholas Carr (it is actually an assigned text in the New Media History and Theory class I’m teaching this term). The subtitle is “Automation and Us” and the premise is that automation has the illusion of making us free(r) and more skilled by taking the drudgery out of life, in actuality we lose on several fronts (such as cognitive skills) when things become automated. I’m not saying I agree with him, but he presents an interesting argument.
This article kind of makes my head explode when discussing MTurk:

In a sense, crowdsourced services like Invisible Boyfriend are based on an illusion; they’re meant to mimic the efficiency and consistency of robots using faceless, distributed human workers. As a result, we often treat the people on them like robots, in the sense that we believe that we can speak to them freely without consequences or judgment, the same way we feel when we do a Google search…. When you’re talking to a Mechanical Turk worker over text message, you’re much more likely to reveal sensitive information than you would to a stranger sitting next to you.

So automation begats people begats people-who-people-think-are-automated. Yep.

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