Meet Clarence. He’s homeless and selling wi-fi outside of the bigguest internet innovation conference in the world but doesn’t have access to the internet himself. 

Clarence, who’s originally from New Orleans, LA., lost his house after Hurricane Katrina.



Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) a creative advertising agency based in New York, came up with a “charitable innovation” plan called Homeless Hotspots to support Austin’s homeless population.

A $2 donation to Clarence will get you 15-mintues of wi-fi. The donation has to be made through paypal, BBH says “no cash please.”

Here’s how the campaign describes itself:

Homeless Hotspots is a charitable innovation initiative by BBH New York. It attempts to modernize the Street Newspaper model employed to support homeless populations. 

 As digital media proliferates, these newspapers face increased pressure. Our hope is to create a modern version of this successful model, offering homeless individuals an opportunity to sell a digital service instead of a material commodity. SxSW Interactive attendees can pay what they like to access 4G networks carried by our homeless collaborators. This service is intended to deliver on the demand for better transit connectivity during the conference. If you’d like to support Homeless Hotspots from afar, click the button below to donate. All proceeds go directly to Front Steps Homeless shelter.

More than 20,000 people registered for SXSW Interactive this year where according to conference organizers 57% of attendants are making more than $85,000 a year. And some are worried about that. That both conference attendees and BBH don’t really have any long term solutions that will help these homeless men.

“The homeless turned not just into walking, talking hotspots, but walking, talking billboards for a program that doesn’t care anything at all about them or their future, so long as it can score a point or two about digital disruption of old media paradigms. So long as it can prove that the real problem with homelessness is that it doesn’t provide a service,” wrote Tim Carmody on Wired.Com.

Read this online at http://colorlines.com/archives/2012/03/campaign_uses_homeless_people_as_wi-fi_hotspots_at_sxsw.html


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