Archive - Mar 13, 2012


For years, I've been putting up at least one blog post every day. Then, a week or two ago, I missed a day. Last Friday, I missed another day, and then didn't post on Sunday or Monday either. It is the longest hiatus I've had in several years on this blog.

There are a lot of things going on right now. Due to the nature of them, I can't talk publicly about them, and since a blog is a pretty public place, I'll just have to wait until I write about them. On top of this, I wasn't feeling very well over the weekend, so I spent much of the time sleeping. There were other events that I missed as well over the weekend, like our families annual trip to the Hebron Maple Festival.

With that, let me comment on a couple interesting stories. The first is about the hot topic out of South by Southwest. No, it isn't that InstaGram will soon be available on the Android, nor that Empire Avenue has relaunched itself. No, thing everyone is talking about is homelessness. As a person concerned about homelessness, I'm glad to see this becoming a big issue and particularly interested in how this came about.

BBH Labs, 'Marketing Skunkworks - new models around technology, entertainment and brands', ran a 'charitable experiment' called homeless hotspots. They worked with a homeless shelter in Austin, TX, to give thirteen people a job during SxSW. These people were homeless hotspots. They carried MiFi devices that allowed people around them to by internet connectivity. People were asked to donate $2 for fifteen minutes of MiFi time to the homeless people.

The blogosphere went wild about these homeless people being exploited. It raised interesting questions. Who was exploiting whom? The New York Times ran the article Use of Homeless as Internet Hot Spots Backfires on Marketer. (It is interesting to note that the URL makes it appear as if the original title was 'Homeless as Wi-Fi Transmitters Creates a Stir in Austin') Did the 'charitable experiment' backfire?

The article in the Times quoted one homeless man,

“Everyone thinks I’m getting the rough end of the stick, but I don’t feel that,” Mr. Jones said. “I love talking to people and it’s a job. An honest day of work and pay.”

In My Hotspot's Name is Mark, Mark is reported as being 'grateful for the opportunity'.

As I think about SxSW, I wonder how many people payed for homeless hotspot time using corporate credit cards. I have to wonder if Nathan Fillion, Neal Patrick Harris, or Felicia Day bought some homeless hotspot time as they waited for Joss Whedon's talk at SxSW to start.

Meanwhile, closer to home, there is a conflict about efforts to evict Occupy protesters from the New Haven Green. Paul Bass has written about it in Last-Ditch Occupy Suit Seeks Proprietors’ Demise. It includes a link to a suit filed on behalf of the Occupy protesters by Norm Pattis. The suit is also well worth the read and raises lots of interesting questions.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in court and in the green.

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