Ch 3: Task Me the Money! How Doing Tiny Tasks Online Could Mean Big Things for the Future IRL

Crowdsourcing As a Shortcut to the Technological Singularity (Free E-book)

Let’s start with a short story…

How Tiny Tasks got you a Tiny House…

You and your significant-other are sitting in your tiny living room sipping cups of hot-chocolate and listening to some music.
How did you get here?
You can barely afford a studio-apartment! How are you now inside your own house?
Well, here’s the answer:
First of all, you were brave enough to try something different…
…because, you see, you don’t have a classic type-of-house with plumbing that connects to a sewer-system, a garage, or property-taxes, nope… none of that;
you’re in a tiny house, a tiny-house on wheels (to be specific). Coincidentally, you’re parked in the backyard of your uncle’s house in Denver, Colorado; best of all, you’re only paying a few hundred bucks a month for the privilege…
But, still, on your salary, you couldn’t even afford the tiny-house you’re in without taking out a massive loan (one or two years salary at the very least). Furthermore, if you had tried to build the tinyhouse yourself, it still would have cost you tens-of-thousands of dollars (not to mention it taking you years to complete).
That’s where you remember how you raised the money… It was on a website called
How the money was raised was special. It wasn’t crowdfunding. Besides, that wouldn’t have worked; your social group could not have afforded to donate that much cash to your tinyhouse even if they had wanted to. The people in your social group helped you another way, and they donated something else, their time…
By doing short tasks online (answering surveys, editing photo’s, cleaning up data for data scientists, and translating documents, etc.), your grandma, your old high-school buddies, and your mail-man (along with hundreds of strangers) helped you to raise the cash you needed for your dream home (on wheels) and your future.
Thanks to all these folks (and a good sense-of-community among them and you), you can enjoy that hot-cocoa in the comfort of your own home.
It’s nice to know people care. Isn’t it?

Let’s start at the beginning…

What is Crowdfunding?

Most people in tech are now familiar with crowdfunding, but here’s a quick look at the forms it takes today:

Donation: People pitch an idea or need to friends, family, and strangers online in order to solicit donations, pooling money to make something happen (e.g., a movie, an album, and invention, a project, etc).

Equity: People raise money by selling shares in their company in a style that is similar to donation crowdfunding.

Debt: Like ‘Equity’ but with the promise of repayment & the payment of interest.

Patronage: Like in days of old where the weatlhy were patrons to artists, crowdfunding Patrons support other people (especially artists) via repeating-payments so that they can continue a craft or activity without worrying about the bills as much, etc.

Diagram: Microtasking>Cash>Donations>Crowdfunding = Changing the World!

Task Me the Money Diagram

How Crowdfunding is Pushing Us Toward the Future

Crowdfunding pushes us toward the future by giving inventors and other ‘Creators’ the ability to access capital from their fellow man.

  • Prior to crowdfunding, asking for money was done in a much more formal way, and the funds came from less-distributed sources (i.e., rich people).
  • So, now, creatives have more opportunities in general, and, for humanity, that has meant more innovation and innovation at a faster pace.

Remember, too, crowdfunding has been around for around 10 years, and, already, many movements that will shape our future, such as the virtual-reality movement, smartwatches, and affordable 3D printers, have been spawned because of it!

Crowdfunding will continue to evolve, and it will continue to push the future forward by enabling thinkers, turning them into do-ers.

What Microtasking Could Do for Crowdfunding: Tasking for Donation and Equity

What people (and crowdfunding companies) don’t seem to realize is that you don’t actually need to have money to crowdfund…

If microtasking was inserted into the crowdfunding process, then idleness (a free and abundant resource in our civilized world) could easily be turned into

In other words, crowdfunding-campaigns can all be funded by typing and clicking…. We just haven’t really tried it yet.

Reminder: What is Microtasking?

Microtasking is the splitting-up of large-projects into smaller uniform tasks to be worked on. Microtasks usually take up to a few minutes to complete.

Some examples include: writing product descriptions (or other short-form content), identifying things in images, sorting data, answering questions, doing short-surveys, being asked for your
opinion, filtering negative-comments or obscene-content.

However, with enough imagination, almost any job or project can be broken into microtasks.

Could Crowdfunding Make Microtasking More Interesting to the Average Joe?


Microtasking is currently enjoying a moderate amount of popularity (yet not anywhere near as much as crowdfunding). Micro-volunteering is popular too.

Did you know that people are currently volunteering via tiny tasks or being paid a tiny bit at a time for these tasks by the millions?

Now, think about this: If you took it out of the context of just ‘volunteering directly for a nonprofit’ or ‘making money directly for yourself’ and, instead, introduced the idea to people as a means to raise money for things they cared about, it’s possible they would become a lot more interested in this whole ‘tasking business’…

Imagine, for example, if microtasking was an option for fundraising during a presidential-election. People would be highly-motivated to ‘task’ on the behalf of their favorite candidate…

Similarly, people would be highly-motivated to “task” if the cash-benefit was going towards something like a young nephew’s college-fund, or a close friend’s wedding-costs, or, more importantly, perhaps, even to a down-payment on someone’s first-home, etc.

These kinds of emotional, high-stakes situations would be a lot more motivating, especially when compared to the drudgery of typing, pointing, and clicking all night long just so you could earn yourself enough money to buy a sandwich.

Tasker Becomes Requester

Furthermore, introducing this concept to people for the first time, and getting more people interested in marketplaces for “microtasking” will get more average-Joe’s thinking about using it for themselves (for requesting tasks).

Unlike large-corporations or tech-companies, people’s microtask-requests would probably be relatively simple… such as asking for help finding the cheapest price for something in their area , or requesting a unique pie-recipe, or research something important to them like the pros-and-cons of different career-training-programs, etc.

People could also ask for slightly-larger tasks like editing a photo, writing something for them, or even making a song; it could be pretty flexible.

How This All Leads Us to a Tech Utopia

  • First, while at the same time increasing the microtasking-market, it will increase the cash-pool of crowdfunding, which we already know boosts innovation and pushes us toward the future.
  • Second, it will introduce more people to the concept of ‘microtasking’ which is an activity (and a behavior) that is central to the idea of using crowdsourcing as a shortcut to the future of technology.