Like other taskmaster companies before it, Microtask, a Finnish startup, is using a crowdsourcing model to distribute mind-numbing, repetitive work across a network of laborers -- actually, volunteers for now. "Pure monetary compensation is a 20th-century concept," Miettinen told The New York Times last October. At the time, he envisioned the "game-ification" of dull clickwork, which could pay players with virtual currency or other rewards valued by gamer culture. It's now a reality.
The company's first major project, "Digitalkoot," has some 25,000 volunteers digitizing the archives of the National Library of Finland by playing Mole Bridge and its companion game, Mole Hunt. (See a video of each posted after the break.) So all that gibberish? Uh-huh, it's actually a series of randomly selected images -- in most cases, individual words -- from scanned documents, which character recognition software has been unable to interpret. Our reward for still being smarter than the machines? A high score.