How do you feel about the "homeless hotspots" at SXSW?


I've been listening to music from the South by Southwest festival in Austin. Lot's of it for free - thanks Google! I was watching the news last night and there was a panel discussion focused on a project by BBH-Labs that pays homeless people to essentially carry around a MiFi, and for an additional donation, they will stand around while you use his or her hotspot for broadband access. It's a 4G network, incidentally. Apparently this stirred up quite a lot of controversy, and many people were upset over the whole thing. My first reaction is to see this as a mostly positive thing, but maybe I'm in the minority on this. What do most people think about this, is it exploitive or does it extend a helping hand to the homeless?

Topic: Offbeat
Answer this Question


2 total
Vote Up (16)

If it puts some money in their pocket, I'm all for it. It's basically just giving them a job and that's a positive thing. That said, it does seem like a bit of a weird idea. But if it works then I'm fine with it. I'm sure there are some homeless that would appreciate being able to earn money that way, and perhaps it might set some of them on the road to not being homeless any more.

Vote Up (13)

Well, my office happens to be about a block away from a homeless shelter.  I have a lot of sympathy for most of the homeless, and many people are in a tough situation for reasons that are at least partially beyond their control.  That said, today I've watch a homeless guy urinate on the building across the street, seen three homeless guys get into a very loud verbal confrontation while drinking brown-bag style on the sidewalk, and I just saw a bunch of broken glass from a bottle they smashed after they emptied it.  Do I think it would be better for them to be making money ($20 to wear the hotspot around for the day is what I've read they were paid), and getting paid additional money to stand still while they provide a service?  Absolutely I do.  What are the alternatives? I didn't hear the critics offering any other choices for those folks to earn some money.  I've never been homeless, but I've experienced lean times, and during those times I would have gladly taken $20+ to walk around downtown Austin for the afternoon.  The t-shirts printed with "homeless hotspot" might have been a little weird, but even so I give BBH-Lab's the benefit of the doubt that they printed those to draw attention to the issue of homelessness.    

Ask a question

Join Now or Sign In to ask a question.
Streaming your games for others to watch on Twitch is a big fad these days, but it looks like the company is taking the first tentative steps towards branching into other areas.
Also word on original TV shows for the Xbox platform, and if you're ready to buy, Target has a deal for you.
When it comes to watching TV, one of the Xbox One's biggest flaws is it's inability to access content on your DVR. A new version of Smartglass aims to address that, at least to some extent.
The social media giant buys virtual reality headset maker Oculus VR and the possibilities are endless - and frightening
One company’s unusual developer referral bonus program pays off for both sides
Xbox Live is infamous for being a toxic environment thanks to a small percentage of gamers who don't know how to behave. Microsoft thinks it has a way to fix the system.
Also announced: Pascal family of GPUs and a $3000 graphics card.
One of the Ouya micro-consoles's selling points has been that you can sample every game for free. That requirement is going away soon. Good news for developers, perhaps not as good for customers.
Google wants to put Android-powered devices all over your body. What could go wrong?
We already talked about Sony's Project Morpheus yesterday, but there's more VR news coming out of GDC this week.