One of the most interesting start-ups that keeps popping up on my radar screen is Crowdflower, which connects nonprofits and companies with people around the globe looking to work on crowdsourced tasks.
It’s a fascinating glimpse at future contract labor models and at how work relationships are becoming more distributed, global, ephemeral and efficient.
Crowdflower takes simple tasks and breaks them down, using a global network of workers to determine, say, if a tweet about a brand is negative or positive, or if a piece of content violates a site’s community guidelines.
The person might spend 2 minutes on a task, an hour, or more. “The advantage is that the person doesn’t have to drive to work, they don’t even have to sign up for a website. They can just come to a job post, accomplish a task and get paid — in minutes,” says Crowdflower CEO and founder Lukas Biewald.
I spent three minutes chatting with Lukas at an extremely noisy rooftop party at South by Southwest Interactive. The video won’t win any awards for aesthetics — I was being jostled while holding a Kodak Zi8 hi-def camcorder — but it’s evidence that when you meet interesting people, it’s good to have a handheld recorder in your pocket.
One mind-blowing angle: You’d be surprised at the number of people willing to perform tasks, such as in a Facebook game, in exchange for virtual currency that can buy them more trees in Zynga’s Farmville or more weapons in Mafia Wars. “People don’t realize how much this virtual money means to people,” he says.