Crowdsourced Labor: Digital Democracy or Centralized Sweatshop?

Crowdsourced Labor: Digital Democracy or Centralized Sweatshop?

November 11, 7:30 pm

The Change You Want To See Gallery
84 Havemeyer St, Brooklyn NY 11211

Within activist and creative practice there is a range of models for mobilizing the labor and creativity of the crowd (aka “crowdsourcing”). Both practices experiment with a spectrum of autonomy and control within those models. From distributed design to distributed fundraising, MoveOn to Mechanical Turk, a crowdsourcer issues a call and creates structure for participation. What role do individual motivations and collective goals play within these structures? What are the ethical, social and political implications of distributed labor?

Panelists include xtine, artist, educator and creator of the Mechanical Olympics; Jeff Crouse, artist, technologist and creator of the Invisible Threads virtual jeans factory; and Beka Economopoulos, online organizer, consultant and curator at The Change You Want To See Gallery.

This event is an installment of the monthly Upgrade NY! series on open source as it relates to activist and creative practice, co-produced by Eyebeam and Not An Alternative. It is presented as a prelude to “The Internet as Playground and Factory,” a conference organized by Trebor Scholz to take place at The New School University November 12–14.

Upgrade NY
Internet as Playground and Factory:

xtine is a media artist and educator, and the co-author of Digital Foundations: Intro to Media Design with the Adobe Creative Suite (New Riders/AIGA 2009). She is informed by the history of conceptual art and practices in the era of social-networking. Using tools common to consumer web practices, such as databases, search engines, blogs, and applications – sometimes in combination with popular sites like Facebook, YouTube, or Mechanical Turk, she creates web projects and communities that foster interpretation and autonomy. xtine believes that art can shape social experiences by influencing consumer culture with imaginary practices. As an educator, she is interested in the art of instruction.

Jeff Crouse makes loving parodies of technology in the form of software, websites, and installations.  Jeff’s previous work includes YouThreebe, a YouTube triptych creator; Invisible Threads, a virtual jeans factory in Second Life; and James Chimpton, a robotic monkey that interviewed the artists of the 2008 Whitney Biennial. He is currently developing BoozBot, a bar tending robot/puppet; and DeleteCity, a WordPress plug-in that finds and republishes content that has been taken down from sites such as Flickr and YouTube. His work has been shown at the Sundance Film Festival, the Futuresonic festival in Manchester, UK, the DC FilmFest, and the Come Out and Play Festival in Amsterdam.

Beka Economopoulos has 15 years experience as a grassroots field and online organizer, working with local, national, and international NGOs and activist mobilizations. She is currently the Vice President at Fission Strategy, a consultancy specializing in Web 2.0 and new media approaches to online advocacy, organizing, marketing, and communications. Prior to joining Fission, she directed the Online Organizing team at Greenpeace USA, managing online/offline integration, volunteer management, leadership development, and online social networking and social media strategy. Beka is also a co-founder of Not An Alternative, a volunteer-run non-profit organization based in Brooklyn, New York, whose mission aims to integrate art, activism, technology and theory in order to affect popular understandings of events, symbols and history. and


November 11, 2009


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