Turker, Farmer, Bot

This video is a part of a longer research into Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform, and is an exploration of the ghostly, undead, half-eaten and slowly decomposing stories sourced from the platform that forms a metaphoric link with online/offline technocultures. Here the the Mturk platform is introduced as specter where turkers, farmers and bots signal towards magic that complicates the almost transcendental belief in technocratic and algorithmic management. The three ghost stories. Relying on heavy abstraction, the film considers obfuscation, concealment, and pretense as the premise of the platform.

The title comes from the now famous 2018 claim that ‘bots’ had taken over Mturk. However, numerous studies since has shown that it was farmers (digital workers who use server farms as a way to camouflage identity and location), bots (digital workers have poor English language, or, who use scripts to filter jobs) in non-english speaking countries who were being flagged as ‘bad actors’. Simultaneously ghost stories in Indian languages sourced from Mturk via high-paying jobs speak of three hauntings – an individual encounter, a communal haunting, and a humorous re-telling of a mythological story where a ghost gets trapped in a riddle. On screen we view three stages of life/death: decay and consumption, composting of the dead (the promise of life again), and the few minutes before death.

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