Micro-Stories


“Micro-Stories are a series of crowd-sourced stories accumulated via chain mail, prompted by beginnings written by Amazon Mechanical Turk workers. Nestled inside these fictions are narrations of what it means to be flexibly at work today under a precarious gig economy.

I hope that in sharing these stories and co-writing the endings we can exchange our experiences of what it means to be ‘at work’ today and begin to imagine alternate ways of caring for each other beyond capitalist metrics of output and efficiency.”

Listen to the stories here:


Read the stories here. 

Project Research and Development:


Mechanical turk is Amazon’s crowdsourced workforce, hired online for pennies by the task to label the data sets that artificially intelligent systems are trained on.

Entering the very analytical backend of Mechanical Turk for this project, exposed how at the mercy of the requester the workers are, alienated and atomised by the very design of the platform. Performing the repetative labour of human discernment that machines cannot yet do, these workers remain invisible and unnamed, suspended in competetion rather than collabration with other workers.

Attempting to make visible these hidden systems of labour, this project was comprised of micro interventions that explored the ethics of digital labour while designing tools for education and awareness around the topic.

What human labour does the shininess of digital systems render invisible?  

How can we demystify our understanding of the digital world and become more conscious of the humans fueling automation?



The quotes from interviews conducted with Mturk workers were used to caption a photo series titled Bending Over Backwards, spotlighting the compromising work conditions that are accepted in a strive for flexibility.



The interview trasncripts were further translated into the format of a printable colouring book in hopes that the quotes might be met with a sustained attentiveness whilst mimicking the repetitive labour that they reference.




2020  

For more info visit:
https://heylooksomethingishappening.com/Michelle-O-Higgins-Theilmann

MicroStories aired on Subtext Radio 03/10/20