Widespread debate hit the States this week when in Austin, Texas an annual conference descended into arguement after BBH Labs, a unit of the global marketing agency BBH, came up with an idea to use 13 of the cities homeless population as mobile 4G hotspots. The local hobos get paid an initial payment of $20 to carry the wi-fi equipment and wear an “I am a 4G Hotspot” t-shirt to alert internet users of their location and can earn a minimum of $50 for 6 hours work.
Critics have claimed “the experiment turned homeless people into inanimate objects for the benefit of well-heeled techies.” And Wired.com are quoted as saying it “sounds like something out of a darkly satirical science-fiction dystopia.” It’s good in a way that it helps a small percentage of the local homeless folk fend for themsleves, but its exploitation in a way too, so I’m 50/50 on it.
It can have adverse effects as over crowding in the local soup kitchens drive the needy out as internet users clamber to update their facebooks – “The restaurant im in sucks……the soup is like drinking lumpy dishwater and I broke my vaneer on the bread roll.” Imagine if we did it here, having to send an apology to your boss because the report you had to have in for mid-day was stuck in your outbox because your wi-fi connection had a bag of glue and a half bottle of Buckfast and wandered off into the middle of the motorway traffic. (not that I’m stereotyping).