Design Inspirations ux

Crowdworking- dystopian future or democratisation of labour?

Crowdworking and the Human Element

Crowdworking has been growing fast for the last couple of years with companies calling on workers from all over the work to collaborate on huge tasks while sitting at their home computer. Microworking sites, such as Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, pay for so-called human intelligence tasks (Hits).

Clickworker, a paid crowdsourcing platforme is another alternative, uses microtasking to complete client projects.This form of microtasking, works by outsourcing small, virtual tasks to an army of online workers, who then perform them for pennies. These tasks vary widely in scope and substance, but what links them all is that they’re essentially too difficult or too dependent on human analysis for a computer to do, but too simple for skilled labor. These microtasks are completed by ‘Clickworkers’.

Nevertheless critics argue that crowdworking is not necessarily a grate way to make extra cash. “Clickworkers” as they are called have no benefits and no rights, and there are no regulations about minimum wage, a similar phenomenon to other elements of the gig economy.

Redesigning The Controversial World Of Crowdwork through Design Fiction

Critics argue that  this model  of crowdwork is  not necessarily a great way to make extra cash. “Clickworkers” have no benefits and no rights, and there are no regulations about minimum wage—similar to other elements of the gig economy.

Two interactions designers, Stephan Bogner and Philipp Schmitt have envisioned how crowdworking could better fit into our lives through UX and hardware by showcasing three examples of how crowdwork would be used for good.

Their project, Human Element explores the question of how crowdsourcing will affect our lives through three speculative crowdwork services.The project is set in a near future scenario. It is based on research of present problems and future projections that experts in the field are discussing today.

Crowdworking services for everyday life


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.


The concept of Spare-cycle workstation is taking digital labour into public spaces, allowing us to monetise unused cognitive abilities during our daily commute, making money while we wait.


Example of a worker completing a sentiment analysis task at the main bus station. Source 

For more information about this work and about the work of the two interaction designers who carried out this project, see the following:

Stephan’s website can be found here

Philips’ website can be found here:

As this work was part of a Bachelor thesis, I am inclined to include all credits as found on the website of the creators of this work:


Concept & Development: Philipp Schmitt & Stephan Bogner
Consulting: Prof. Dr. habil. Georg Kneer and Prof. David Oswald
Movie Credits: See closing credits
Special Thanks: Jochen Maria Weber, Jonas Loh and Benedikt Groß

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