At SXSW in Austin, Texas this year, marketing company Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) decided to give Wi-Fi hotspot devices to some local homeless people. They gave them T-shirts to help explain their roles as wandering hotspots and from the picture above, they look decently happy about it, well, at least Clarence does. However, some people find the concept to be pretty degrading and are up in arms about it. Personally, I think it’s an incredibly clever idea.
If you’re a SXSW attendee and want access, all you have to do is make a donation of your choosing to the homeless hotspot you wish to “use” and you’ll receive unlimited access, suggested donation $2 per 15 minutes. When all is said and done, each “Hotspot Manager,” as they are called, gets to keep all the donations made in order to gain access to his particular hotspot. Unsurprisingly, there have been some negative reactions.
“It is a neat idea on a practical level, but also a little dystopian,” said New York Times’ David Gallagher, a sentiment which many have been inclined to agree with. While having roaming hotspots may be very useful for SXSW attendees who want better access to network connectivity considering that Wi-Fi is lacking, the concept of taking the homeless and “turning them into” infrastructure has some implications that don’t go over well with everyone. “The shirt doesn’t say, ‘I have a 4G hotspot.’ It says, ‘I am a 4G hotspot,’” Jon Mitchell of Read Write Web points out.
BBH and the Homelessness advocate group Front Steps — which was involved in organizing the project — have both stood behind the idea in the face of unfolding criticism. BBH argues that the discussion of this self-described experiment is a positive affect in and of itself. Welcoming “educated critiques” in a post on its blog, BBH states that the project’s intention was to get people to help “optimize and validate this platform,” so feedback from anyone and everyone seems to have been part of the plan. Validation from whom though, is the real question.
Front Steps, based in Austin and responsible for finding the Hotspot Managers, all of whom were selected after a fairly detailed application process, says that the project fits with the organization’s goals of ”empowerment, education, and encouragement of the client to earn an income while saving the majority of those earnings with a goal of moving to safe and stable housing.”
The concept isn’t unprecedented. The whole project is openly acknowledged to be an attempt to modernize the model of street newspapers, the slowly dying phenomenon of newspapers distrubuted, and partially produced, by the homeless. Street newspapers, however, are suffering the same declines as most print publications and as such, BBH was looking to try out a modernized version. Now that isn’t to say that Homeless Hotspots is a perfect analogue for street newspapers, and one of the criticisms that BBH has openly acknowledged and agreed with is that the Homeless Hotspots project doesn’t provide any opportunity for creativity, or skill aquisition, like street newspapers do. It just involves strapping something to homeless people who then go out and proceed to be homeless.
And that’s the issue that seems to really complicate the Homeless Hotspot program, the fact that it seems to be specifically tailored to homeless people; it’s not a model one could expect to ever be attempted by the non-homeless. The fact that these Hotspot Managers are not actually being paid per se, but are asking for donations, just as they would if they weren’t hauling around 4G hotspots is what seems to separate this from what one might normal consider a “job.” These folks are still going around being homeless and asking for money, the only difference is that now they have “something of value” to offer in exchange. There’s also the matter of seperating the hotspot’s carrier from the hotspot itself. The term “Hotspot Manager” seems pretty clearly intended to work around the tendency to refer to the homeless people themselves as the hotspots. I’m sure you can see how this whole thing can be touchy.
This little short is one of the most odd films I’ve ever seen. The creepiness is on a pretty high level, along with the weirdness. Watch it if you want.
Read the full article HERE
Now if you knew me well, you would know that I fucking love penguins. They are the best. Recently, I received word that the San Diego SeaWorld has a 24 hour penguin cam that you can watch online. I was a little skeptical but alas, here it is. You can watch those adorable little fuckers wobble around all day and night.
Click HERE to increase your happiness immediately.
Barbara Wueringer has an answer: the saws are both trackers and weapons. They’re studded withsmall pores that allow the sawfish to sense the minute electrical fields produced by living things. Even in murky water, their prey cannot hide. Once the sawfish has found its target, it uses the ‘saw’ like a swordsman. It slashes at its victim with fast sideways swipes, either stunning it or impaling it upon the teeth. Sometimes, the slashes are powerful enough to cut a fish in half. Even less dramatic blows can knock a fish to the sea floor, and the sawfish pins it in place with its saw.
You’ve probably already seen this video, I just love the giant smile on the kid’s face when the cops come grab him and he knows they have nothing on him.