1000 workers

May 1st, 2014

I hired 1000 online workers to answer two questions:

Why do you work? - and - What will you do with the money you earn?

They were paid under 10¢ each. See their responses:

About the project


From a bipolar Egyptian who works to make his little brother happy (#297) to a German who saves for Playstation games (#460) the 1000 answers tell the story of 1000 lives and 1000 reasons to work.

Work is how we feed our children. Changes in how we work will always stir up controversy. With globalization the threat and opportunity of change is everywhere for everyone.

On the 1st of May I wanted to use that very change to come back to the fundamentals of work:

To get money we do something for someone else, something they will pay us for. In essence, we are giving up our limited time so someone else can have it. What is it that drives us to work? What ambitions? What goals? Are we forced?

To find answers I paid 1000 online workers 10c.

I did this on Crowdflower. On Crowdflower and similar pages workers are paid in cents to do small automation tasks that machines can't do. The normal tasks are things like spam checking or reading if twitter posts are negative or positive.

My tasks looked like this:

  1. Write what you will do with the money you earn writing this (min 140 chars)
  2. and - Sum up why you work in two seperate words

I paid 10 cents to everyone who did both tasks.

Am I exploiting these people? Or am I giving them an opportunity?

Within a few hours I had 1000 answers. All from real people around the world. A few copy-paste jobs, but most are honest introspections. All tell a story.

Go read the answers now.

To present this I've hired a 1001th online worker. She will be Live at Kulturhuset, Oslo. 12:00 to 16:00 Norwegian time. Feel free to join us.


1000 Workers is made by me, Daniel Jackson and greatly helped along by my teacher Ståle Stenslie, AHO.