Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Microwork as a Way to Collaborate

Recently I have been exploring selfsourcing as a way to help someone perform a single large, overwhelming information tasks by breaking it down into hundreds of easy-to-perform microtasks. Many of the microtasks that make up our personal information tasks need to be completed by the task owner, because they require personal knowledge or context. But not all do. In this way, the approach makes it easy to share aspects of a task with others in a way that is not easy to do for traditional complex tasks. For example, if the process of creating a photobook is broken down into subtasks, different family members can perform these subtasks to create a coherent book. Likewise, multiple colleagues could simultaneously create a single presentation if the process allowed them to brainstorm ideas on a topic and labeling them in parallel.

Sharing selfsourcing tasks with others not only reduces the amount of work for the user, but also provides new perspectives. For example, brainstorming works particularly well when individuals build off each other’s ideas. Some selfsourced microtasks can be sent to friends (friendsourced) or crowdsourced. For example, a user may not want to rate all of their photographs to create a photobook, but would be willing to pay the crowd to help.

The decomposition of personal tasks in selfsourcing also makes it easy to incorporate automation. For example, the selfsourcing photo application we are exploring uses face recognition to help users propagate tags to other photographs. The user and the system collaborate by having the system make an algorithmic guess, and then having the user sanity check that guess through the Tag Extend task. Interactive machine learning fits well into the selfsourcing framework, and microtasks may be particularly easy to learn because they are schematized.

By breaking complex personal tasks into microtasks, we create a straightforward way for users to trade off factors such as costs, effort, tolerance for errors, and privacy, when soliciting input from other sources.

Related paper:
J. Teevan, D.J. Liebling, and W. Lasecki. Selfsourcing Personal TasksCHI 2014 WiP.

1 comment:

  1. When reading your text I instantly thought about crowdsourcing :). I like the idea behind it but I'm not sure if every working process could be split up to micro tasks. But for some purposes it is an interesting concept - so let's see what's going to happen.