From the “We’re not sure how we feel about this” department: People attending the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas have a new way to get online — homeless people. The Bartle Bogle Hegarty marketing firm has launched a non-profit drive called “Homeless Hotspots.” Basically, they supply homeless Austin residents with a 4G MiFi hotspot; the homeless people wear a shirt listing their name and access info for the hotspot; and you give the homeless person a donation (which he then keeps) to use the connection.

It’s a kind of interesting setup that solves an accessibility problem and puts cash in the pockets of those who need it, but a lot of people are expressing unease about it. A lot of the discontent revolve around the wording on the homeless people’s shirts, which read “I’m , a 4G hotspot.” Some would rather the shirts say “I’m running a 4G hotspot” or something similar.

Semantics aside, there’s no questioning the good that comes from the program: BBH supplied the hotspot devices for free, and the homeless “managers” get to keep the money they raise from people using the service. (BBH suggests a donation of $2/15 minutes, and allows you to donate to specific managers/hotspots via PayPal on the website if you don’t have cash on hand.) BBH, of course, gets a case study in new advertising/message campaigns.

As we said, we’re not really sure how to feel about this. Offhand, it seems like a decently well-intentioned, innovative idea, but turning the homeless into roaming 4G hotspots just seems like something from a dystopian sci-fi novel. What are your thoughts?

Thanks to for pointing this out! Image taken from this YouTube video.

Original Post by Brad Chacos, Reposted Courtesy of Maximum PC – Covering everything from hi-end gaming PCs to tablets, peripherals and home theater rigs, Maximum PC’s print and Web editions stay one step ahead of the fast-changing world of everything computer and computing related. Whether its the latest on building your own desktop system, reviews of the latest laptops and accessories, or roundups of the games and software that make your machine go, Maximum PC brings it to you with news, reviews, and years of expertise. TechnoBuffalo is thrilled to bring you the best of Maximum PC right here on our own pages to keep you immersed in all things digital.