All things to all people: what the Internet means to our lives
December 9, 2014 EditorIt is difficult to imagine our world without the Internet. Apart from online social media, cat videos, online banking, and Wikipedia-fueled homework assignments, the Internet underpins financial transactions and economic activities around the world. Without it, airlines, banks and stock markets would be unable to coordinate in real-time their global or — in many cases — their national and local interactions. However, like many global concepts, the Internet is sometimes too large and too complex an idea and infrastructure; it is all things to all people.
What does the Internet mean to the lives of its users? There are a number of interesting reports and studies available to answer this question. However, I thought it might be useful to pose this question to some of its users.
For this, I used the Mechanical Turk (MT) platform, created by Amazon. MT is, as Amazon pithily explains, “artificial artificial intelligence.” It has hundreds of thousands of workers distributed globally who respond to small tasks, such as image categorization or surveys, and are paid once their work is accepted by the requestor. MT is technically classified as a ‘microwork’ platform; it takes a larger task, dividing it up among an anonymous and distributed workforce via the Internet, and aggregating results.
Who better to ask a question on how the Internet has changed one’s life than those who use the Internet as a source of income? And this is what I did.
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