Homeless? Hungry? Become a 4g Hotspot.
Jason Gots is a New York-based writer, editor, and podcast producer. For Big Think, he writes (and sometimes illustrates) the blog "Overthinking Everything with Jason Gots" and is the creator and host of the "Think Again" podcast. In previous lives, Jason worked at Random House Children's Books, taught reading and writing to middle schoolers and community college students, co-founded a theatre company (Rorschach, in Washington, D.C.), and wrote roughly two dozen picture books for kids learning English in Seoul, South Korea. He is also the proud father of an incredibly talkative and crafty little kid.
What's the Big Idea?
Some genius at marketing giant BBH decided to outfit 13 volunteer homeless people in Austin, Texas with 4G Wi-Fi transmitters, turning them into human Wi-Fi hotspots for the duration of the South by Southwest festival, which draws thousands of visitors to the city.
Wearing t-shirts that read “Hi, I’m ___________, a 4G hotspot,” the volunteers were asked to walk around offering Wi-Fi access in exchange for donations. Granted, they were volunteers, and some said they were happy to have the work – but the internet immediately registered intense disapproval of the project, with many on Twitter and around the blogosphere calling it exploitative and dehumanizing.
The “work is work” defense seems a bit shoddy here. The problem isn’t the job of carrying around a transmitter and offering Wi-Fi. It’s the “I am a Wi-Fi hotspot” bit, which isn’t all that different, when you think about it, from giving homeless people garbage bags and a t-shirt that says “I am a garbage bag.”
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