Back in January, when I demonstrated the Mechanical Turk to my Crowdsourcing students, I would show to them one particularly cryptic project. What it was was simply two boxes. The one on the left held an apparently zoomed-in image, while the one on the right was blank. With a simple brush, you were asked to redraw the image on the right. Colours were chosen with a colour dropper, and an adjustable ghost image in the right box made tracing easy. We all knew that we were creating a larger image, guessing it was an art project, but I did not think it could possibly turn out too effective.
I was wrong. The results of that project have surfaced, in the form of “Ten Thousand Cents“. TUrns out we were drawing a one hundred dollar bill.
The total labor cost to create the bill, the artwork being created, and the reproductions available for purchase are all $100. The work is presented as a video piece with all 10,000 parts being drawn simultaneously. The project explores the circumstances we live in, a new and uncharted combination of digital labor markets, “crowdsourcing,” “virtual economies,” and digital reproduction.
This project serves as a brilliant metaphor of the normalizing power of crowds. When you open up a project to the masses, governance becomes extremely difficult. Anybody is given the ability to contribute erroneous information. However, as you gain a larger community of contributors, things balance out despite the fouls. Consider opinion-based efforts, such as Digg and Travelocity: eventually, the best items shine through. That is why Wikipedia is so reliable considering the circumstances: because thousands of editors are better than one. So how is Ten Thousand Cents relevant?
Still Ben, right?