Plans to make homeless people 4G hotspots at the festival apparently aren't a joke
You’re a blogger at SxSW, your reputation depends on getting on your Tumblr immediately updated with the latest warmwave/brostep/Top Shop indie news, what on earth are you going to do!? Easy. Roll up to the nearest homeless person, slip them a bit of change, log into him/her and enjoy the wonders of a high-speed 4G connection.
We shit thee not. US advertising agency BBH are giving 4G hotspots to Austin-based hobos along with a t-shirt that says “I am a 4G hotspot”.
According to Wired magazine, participants in the Homeless Hotspots project are loaned MiFi devices, which they carry around with them, and users can access their services either by paying cash or, incredibly, via a PayPal link on the site where Homeless Hotspots have been set up. A team tracks the transaction and then the particular homeless person you use gets paid.
The mind boggles, and apparently this isn’t a wind-up. Of course, liberals are up in arms, accusing BBH of turning people down on their luck into “a piece of infrastructure”.
BBH are claiming this updates the idea of the newspaper/magazine model, which the homeless sell, like The Big Issue here, saying: “As digital media proliferates, these newspapers face increased pressure. Our hope is to create a modern version of this successful model, offering homeless individuals an opportunity to sell a digital service instead of a material commodity. SxSW Interactive attendees can pay what they like to access 4G networks carried by our homeless collaborators. This service is intended to deliver on the demand for better transit connectivity during the conference.”
Head over to our Facebook and tell us what you think of this mad-cap plan!
Update! BBH respond to criticism of their Homeless Hotspots project here