Dolores Labs is a new service that help clients crowdsource their projects online. Specializing in Mechanical Turk, Dolores Labs has put online two fun example studies.
The first is a classification of Sports Illustrated covers over the past thirty years. Covers were classified by race of the athletes featured and the sport featured. Having recently led coding for a school study—involving a 2-week census of Digg.com front page stories— I can certainly appreciate how appropriate the Turk is for coding with such straightforward, reliable variables.
The second example is even more fascinating. Providing Turkers with thousands of random colours, Dolores simply asked each colour to be named by the worker. What resulted is a fascinating dataset of human-interpreted colour descriptions. You see the common colour names pop up, but more interesting are how the workers utilized language to describe those words that were more difficult to classify.
Essentially, Dolores Labs is a crowdsourcing consulting company. Even though they provide deeper services than simply advice, their main commodity is the knowledge of how crowdsourcing works. There are good ways to mobilize crowds and incorrect or useless ways to do so, and as we come to realize that, crowdsourcing moves beyond simply a trend and into a bona-fida tool. The existence of a group that specializes in understanding the process shows a maturing of crowdsourcing within culture as a viable method for abstract analysis.
Dolores Labs aren’t even the first ones selling their expertise on crowdsourcing. Amsterdam-based CreativeCrowds have been doing a similar thing for a while. Like Delores Labs, they also give back to the public, not in the form of test data but in their phenomenal blog, CrowdSourcingDirectory. Both companies are approaching this the right way, and I hope to see more from both in the future.