AWS Official Blog

10,000 Sheep – Collaborative Art Project

by Jeff Barr | on | in Cool Sites | | Comments

Sheep First it was dogs, now it is sheep!

For quite a while, a somewhat mysterious HIT would appear on the Amazon  Mechanical Turk HITs page, asking the worker to draw a sheep in exchange for a 2 cent payment.

Now, we’ve seen some pretty unusual HITs, but this one really puzzled us. We weren’t sure if the requester genuinely needed pictures of sheep, or if they were simply testing out some infrastructure as a prelude to something more serious.

Today I ran into the Aaron Koblin‘s Sheep Market, and the mystery has been solved. Aaron collected 10,000 sheep drawings and bundled them together in a nice package. I believe that he also used the Amazon Mechanical Turk to do some quality control on the submissions.

There’s a really interesting statistics page (the site is Flash-based so I don’t have a direct link). The average worker spent 105 seconds drawing a sheep, and just 662 of the submissions were rejected. The collection rate was 11 sheep per hour (SPH?). Sheep came in from 7,599 unique IP addresses, so perhaps some people drew more than one.

Selecting a sheep redraws it using the actual mouse strokes used by the original artist. If you find a sheep that you particularly like, you can even buy a stamp sheet. There are some real works of art in there (and then there’s the one that I did).

What a cool example of collaborative art!

You might look at this and think “What’s the point?” or “how does this relate to my business?” Think of this as an example of how to quickly, easily, and inexpensively get 10,000 people to do something for you. Today it is sheep, but it could just as easily be choices of color combinations for car interiors, evaluation of some logos for your business, selection of most important features when choosing a vacation spot, and so forth.

— Jeff;