A “creative” money-making idea?

Business & entrepreneurship, Internet

Several months ago, Amazon began a beta site called , a micro-job, micro-payment setup where people could get paid for doing tasks that are still difficult for computers to do, such as verifying titles in CD cover graphics, transcibing podcasts, and the like. Amazon’s system also allowed the public to submit small online jobs that usually paid pennies per task. Earlier this year, someone submitted a task called “Draw a Sheep”, which involved using a rudimentary MS Paint-like application to, well, draw a sheep facing left. The requester paid a whopping $0.02 per approved drawing, and yes, like many others, I took the time to draw one just for fun, thinking the task was probably just software testing for a new java applet or something.

Fast forward a couple of months, and it turns out the task’s requester was a graduate school student named Aaron Koblin, who’s at UCLA. He managed to collect 10,000 of these drawings and so paid a total of $200 (not including Amazon’s fee) for them, as part of a graduate school project. Having paid each online worker $0.02 per sheep at an average of 105 seconds to draw each sheep comes to a labor rate of $0.69/hour. It seems his graduate project was successful, having been exhibited at a local gallery, and he’s now offering to sell the public 20-block stamps of the sheep for $20, or a markup of 4900%!

To be fair, I doubt he expects to get rich from this, but his site, , is definitely well assembled, clean, and worth a visit. It’s fascinating to see all the different sheep that people managed to draw for $0.02 using a rudimentary drawing program. Actually, some of them are really good. What does it say for American productivity that people are willing to draw sheep for $0.02?

And no, the irony of the sheep theme isn’t lost on me!


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3 Feedbacks on "A “creative” money-making idea?"


I expected the student to merge/morph all collected drawings into one “average drawing” in order to determine the collective perception of sheep.


That’s awesome! I think it’s funny people would take the time do that. Good job on your sheep.

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