Minds for Sale: Jonathan Zittrain explores the rise of Cloud Labor

It’s been a LONG while since I’ve blogged, mostly because I’ve been:
a. out of it
b. at mindblowing conferences
c. swamped with short-term work (while job hunting)

While working on my paper, I chanced upon a video of Jonathan Zittrain’s talk entitled “Minds for Sale”. It’s similar to the one he presented at “Internet as Playground & Factory” which I recently attended (*yet to be blogged). You can download the video via Berkman Center’s page.

Here’s his abstract:

Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, explores the evolving world of cloud computing. Cloud computing is not just for computing anymore: you can now find as much mindshare as you can afford out in the cloud, too. A new range of projects is making the application of human brainpower as purchasable and fungible as additional server rackspace. What are some of the issues arising as armies of thinkers are recruited by the thousands and millions? A fascinating (and non-scare-mongering) view is offered of a future in which nearly any mental act can be bought and sold.

What’s so significant about this talk is that it not only encapsulates the buzz I’ve picked up from the transmedia conferences I’ve just returned from, but he recognizes a pattern which finally takes us beyond the material, and into the conceptual. I’m referring to the emergence of shared cognitive power or rather, cloud labor as he calls it.

In his hour long presentation, he discusses…
2:05 Ubiquitous Human Computing or “Minds for Sale”
2:32 The Tween Bot
4:14 Crowdsourcing “The Future of the Internet”
7:36 A tour of the Ubiquitous Human Computing pyramid
8:37 Example 1: The X-Prize
10:24 Example 2: Innocentive
12:08 Example 3: LiveOps
15:43 Example 4: SamaSource
16:16 Example 5: Amazon’s Mechanical Turk
20:13 Example 6: The ESP Game
22:47 Example 7: Human Computing for Electronic Design Automation
24:01 Example 8: Google
25:24 Why Should We be Pessimistic?
26:38 Child Labor on PBS
28:11 Laboring for a Devious Cause
29:23 US Border Webcams
30:05 Smart Drive
30:45 Internet Eyes
32:09 Identifying Protesters
33:21 A Speculative Example
35:05 Mechanical Turking your way to a Fake Reputation
39:36 Mechanical Turking your way to a Political Movement
41:20 Captchas Sweatshops
43:03 “Crowding Out”
44:41 The Future of Crowdsourcing and How to Stop It
47:14 Clickworkers of the World Unite!
50:45 Monetizing Kindness