By now you’ve probably heard about Homeless Hotspots, a “charitable” initiative spearheaded by marketing firm BBH Labs that turns homeless people into wifi hotspots at SXSWi. The project wants to bring “Street Newspapers into the digital age” by attaching a 4G hotspot to homeless Austin residents and encouraging passersby to pay for access. Homeless participants then get to keep any profit they make from their hotspot.
Unsurprisingly, the project has encountered some serious backlash following its launch. “It is a neat idea on a practical level, but also a little dystopian. When the infrastructure fails us… we turn human beings into infrastructure?” writes David Gallagher on the New York Times SXSW Tumblr.