Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Samasource: ethical outsourcing or 21st century deskilling?

For the last couple of weeks, I've been away on a trip in New Zealand. It's a spectacular place, and I've been "tramping" (this is the New Zealand word for walking) along all kinds of magical trails. As such, I haven't had much time for blogging. However, on a drive between tramps, I did manage to take in a fascinating BBC radio documentary on Samasource, a new San Francisco non-profit that does ethical outsourcing. This story annoyed me to such an extent that I felt compelled to write a post about it when I returned.

Samasource is a non-profit organization that claims to "bring dignified, computer-based work to women, youth, and refugees living in poverty." The work that Samasource farms out includes typing out business cards and receipts, checking scanned text for errors, and verifying business listings. Samasource then pays women and refugees a living wage to do this work.

What could possibly be wrong with this?