Thebault-Spieker: Whose Crowdsourced Market?

The authors situate mobile crowdsourcing markets such as TaskRabbit within geography, arguing that the geographical perspective is fundamental to the functioning of these markets. I was surprised by how little distance seemed to affect willingness to do a task: the authors write that workers were 4.3% less likely to do a task an hour away than one in their immediate area. To me, an hour seems far, and I thought that this distance would have much more of an impact on willingness. I was also surprised by how much gender impacted the decision to complete a task: the mean of means for women’s willingness to do a task was 20% lower than the mean of means for men. The authors hint at it, but I am curious to know what the demographics are of the people asking for the job to be done.

Overall, I think that this article, and the crowdsourced market, is a good example of an application that needs geography. This is certainly a technology that is embedded in geography, and an analysis like this, I would argue, is really essential to understanding the demographics and the processes behind crowdsourcing applications like this one. Inevitably, some people will look at applications like this, and add them to lists such as “ways to make money in GIS” or “another new innovation that uses GIS!” (I’m looking at you, keynote speaker at GIS day.) However, we need to keep working on critical research, keep asking who these technologies empower, and keep examining the underlying inequalities and how they may be perpetuated by services like this.



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