March 12, 2012

The dark side of the Net at #SXSW - exploitation

Making homeless people into mobile 4G hotspots at the interactive-world's spinoff of Austin's famed South by Southwest film festival? Then, talking about a reality show that could be based on that? Yep, all true. And VERY sick and exploitative. And, the company doing this isn't backing off, at least not so far. Rather, it's spinning, spinning, spinning on its corporate PR blog.

And, I don't care if it's an interactive documentary rather than a reality show. It's still a "freak show" that's ultimately being peddled, one which will likely do little long-term good for the "human hotspots" or for homelessness in general. And, claiming this is a modern update of a "Street Newspaper" doesn't wash. They're being paid to be hotspots, not to write stories on mobile devices.

And, even if they were?

My rough estimate is 1/3 of people are homeless through the economy, 1/3 through addiction/alcohol, and 1/3 through mental health, with the last two overlapping with "dual diagnosis" people. A schizophrenic homeless person certainly isn't going to churn out newspaper stories! Even less, online versions thereof.

If BBH REALLY wanted to make a difference, it would give each homeless person a 1968 Memphis garbage strike "I Am a Man" placard as part of this.

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