Thursday, March 15, 2012

Homeless Hotspots Coming Soon!!!

Have you ever run into a dead zone and are unable to connect to the net? And maybe you're too far away from a Starbucks or other Internet cafe? Or maybe your neighbor has shut you out of their Wi-Fi network?

Never fear. Just sidle up to the nearest homeless person in your neck of the woods. Because there's a chance he might be an actual "Homeless Hotspot". Yes, 21st century America is all about getting EVERYBODY plugged in and empowered. Be the change you seek in others. Yes we can! The world is flat!

At the South by South by SouthWest convention, an ad company BBH, decided to think outside the box.
BBH's experiment, dubbed "Homeless Hotspots," launched during the South by Southwest tech-and-entertainment confab in Austin, drawing complaints from critics who viewed the gimmick as exploitative.
In an interview with The New York Post, BBH chairman Emma Cookson said the company has pulled the plug and will not go forward with plans to continue the project in New York."We have no definite, specific plans yet, in New York City or elsewhere," she said. "This was an initial trial program.""We are now listening carefully to the high level of feedback, trying to learn and respond, and we will then consider what is appropriate to do next," she added.  
At SXSW, more than a dozen homeless people were outfitted with wireless routers and T-shirts declaring: "I'm a 4G hotspot."While the effort, which was not associated with the festival, was crafted to provide a digital connection for SXSW Interactive partipants and a charitable service to the city's homeless, outrage quickly gained momentum on social media and among homeless-rights activists.The four-day trial concluded on Monday afternoon, with the door left ajar to expand the project into various cities. But that's a no-go, for now.Users would ask the homeless hotspot for an access code, and were encouraged to donate $2 to their walking Wi-Fi zone for every 15 minutes spent online.
Emma Cookson: Visionary or Cruella DeVille understudy?
So I guess the latest plan to make money off the homeless cure homelessness won't work. So if a homeless man walks up to you and asks for $2, chances are he's not actually a "Homeless Hotspot" but is just a run of the mill beggar.  You should feel free to do whatever you normally do in situations like that, whether it's to offer the money, refuse, give a long lecture or pretend you didn't see or hear the man.  But on the other hand what makes this offer degrading? People have long hired homeless people to pass out flyers for strip clubs, concerts, political rallies and so on. You name it, someone has tried to save on marketing costs by using homeless people. It's not like Ms. Cookson was the first person to use this logic. I guess she reasoned that as long as people were going to be homeless they might as well make themselves useful. Were the people who were complaining about this going to offer a homeless man a job or place to live? Well some of them, maybe. But generally probably not.
1) What's your take? Was this degrading?
2) Was this an attempt at innovative marketing or a remarkably stupid idea?
3) If this brought more focus to the problem of homelessness was it a good move?
blog comments powered by Disqus