"You are not a human, you're just a hotspot."

1. It is dehumanizing.

"The irony of poor people paraded about as a mobile product for the well-off is too much for critics...The contrasting circumstances are inhumane to ignore."
'I am a hotspot?' I HAVE a hotspot. I AM a human.Strand 1: Psychological, PrivacyStrand 2: The homeless and societyStrand 3: Wireless networks- the Internet
A few comments from youtube...
It is dehumanizing. "God, I don't want to think about you being homeless. Just give me my internet." Sick. They are not to be used. THEY ARE TO BE HELPED, DAMN IT! America. Stop trying to sweep the unfortunate under the rug, and get some real social programs for them. Not welfare or charity. REAL help.
The way they did this actually IS offensive. It doesn't just SEEM offensive.

I see the WiFi as exploitive, maybe not the best word, but because we are gaining from their misfortune. "Good thing you don't have a home so you can stand here like an antenna for $2!" Yuck!

Would you want to be a hotspot? Why are you different from a homeless person? Why should they be hotspots and not you? What is the value of a person? Are some people more valuable than others?They should not be.
We’re asking the “have nots” to help out the “haves?”

"It is sickening that people will only consider giving to the homeless if they can receive a petty luxury in return. Homeless people don't owe you anything," said one comment. Source: The Inquirer (http://s.tt/17foS)

sandwich-board-advertisement.jpgYes, they get to tell their stories. But do they really? The only reason people talk to the homeless now, is to gain internet access. It's as if your friends only talk to you when they need something, or want something. Is this just? The argument that they get to interact with society is as strong as the argument that a vending machine gets to interact with society. They become a service, not a people.
"Many outraged commentators have pointed out, rightly, that Homeless Hotspots is a dumb gimmick that turns humans into walking pieces of hardware in the service of promoting BBH's digital creative services"
Source: http://gawker.com/5892662/how-the-stupid-idea-of-using-homeless-people-as-wifi-hotspots-conquered-south-by-south-west

And aren't these homeless people being tracked? What about their privacy? Their security? Why does BBH have the right to invade their privacy? Can they do with it as they wish?
Desperate times, desperate measures. But we really aren't in desperate times.
"Where the men involved aren’t even able to tell their own stories to the world, before they’re doubly used: first by the SXSWi attendees with their smartphones, and then by the marketing firm who will sell their story as a case study or TV show pitch, or to a company looking for a new advertising opportunity at next year’s SXSWi."Source: http://www.brandchannel.com/home/post/2012/03/12/Homeless-Hotspots-SXSW-031212.aspx
Is it effective advertising? Sure. Is it positive advertising? Is it ethical? Notsomuch.
Is the extensive discussion regarding the topic not evidence enough?
2. It is encouraging homelessness.homeless-man-goes-online.jpg
The idea behind homeless hotspots depends on the homeless being homeless, in order to be hotspots.
Strand 1: Economical, Health and Safety, People and MachinesStrand 2: The homeless
It may be argued that a homeless hotspot creates a job opportunity but does it really?The concept relies on the homeless remaining homeless, and using this to squeeze money out of them. It encourages begging, and as implied above, is in no way dignified. Besides, where do health and safety come into play here? Are the homeless supervised? Is their health taken into consideration? It is not, and as we know, technology can be hazardous. In particular to those who have no experience with it.
Would it not be better to give them a 'human' job?
"Each employee of Homeless Hotspot receives 100% of the donations given for internet access"
"Having the homeless work for a mere $20 a day only assures they will remain homeless."

So if no one donates, the homeless person gets nothing. There is no guarantee.Oh wait, he/she does get a salary...which is below minimum wage.
"The Federal Minimum Wage is $7.25. Although we don’t know how long these homeless people were offering Wi-fi, if they spent more than three hours at it, they were being exploited."

According to Forbes, "giving homeless people jobs is a good idea. It's just not good enough."
Sources: http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolpinchefsky/2012/03/13/the-only-reason-that-homeless-hotspots-are-a-bad-idea/ http://critical-thinkers.com/2012/03/homeless-hotspots-innovative-or-disgraceful/

3. Is the system even effective?

Strand 1: Reliability, Privacy, Security, Surveillance, People and MachinesStrand 2: The homeless, The users, BBHStrand 3: The Internet
"They're carrying MiFi devices. Introduce yourself, then log on to their 4G network via your phone or tablet for a quick high-quality connection. You pay what you want (ideally via the PayPal link on the site so we can track finances), and whatever you give goes directly to the person that just sold you access."
Source: The Inquirer (http://s.tt/17foS)
From a technical stance, there may be a relibility issue with connectivity as it would be a lot to ask for a homeless person to stay in one place, or stay near users all the time. As he walks out of range, so does your internet connection.

From an economical stance, would it not be cheaper to just install actual wifi hotspots? What about training? What about maintenance? What about reliability of the homeless person?


"Whatever the intent, however, the result appears to be an insensitive, exploitative commodification of people in need. Let’s draw some clearer ethical boundaries for social enterprise experiments from this. Really."
Source: http://www.nonprofitquarterly.org/policysocial-context/19977-homeless-hotspots-charitable-experiment-pushes-ethical-boundaries-of-social-enterprise.html

question-mark3a1.jpgWhy is it important to have such discussions?

They raise awareness to many problems we face these days such as poverty, digital divide, deception (reasons behind charities) and technological advancements

What is the implication that some technology-based decisions have on the humans involved?

Technology can be either used to help people, take advantage of people or be used against them.
Wifi- helpful to people who want to browse the internet in the streets.
The idea of providing a job to homeless people and allowing them to communicate with others is good but this is not the way. This is taking advantage of them.

Sandwich boards and Homeless Hotspots

They both use humans to do a certain job. The humans become objectified so they in a way are no more humans- a mere billboard or a hotspot in this case.
They also have humans walking with costumes- stand out in society (decide for yourself whether this is good or bad).