Of all the talking points of South By Southwest Interactive—Highlight is the next big social trend, Angry Birds Space is angrier than all those other Angry Birds, etc—Homeless Hotspots seem to still be getting the most press. A marketing stunt orchestrated by advertising agency BBH Labs, Homeless Hotspots were exactly what they sound like—4G hotspots in the form of several homeless people-turned-internet jacks. The stunt drew both criticism and cautious “it’s not a terrible idea, I guess” statements, but that’s not really the point.
Here’s the deal: Whatever the reason behind the stunt—simply to get press, to combat the rising difficulty of the homeless selling Street Wise newspapers, or a mix of both—this is something that happened. Living people with few options were turned into potentially profitable internet connections. The Beatles once said, “There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.” So, world, now we’ve done that. Kudos.
And since that’s what we’re doing now—again, turning the downtrodden into digital infrastructure—why stop with the homeless? C’mon, this is the global community! Think bigger!
Below is a handy list to get you started on other living things that would be far more useful as ways for people to check in at a sushi restaurant or buy a nearby spa deal for 50% off.
• Past reality television stars
VH1 show didn’t pan out? First one off of Dancing with the Stars? Just a forward-thinking Kardashian who hears the fame clock ticking? Add a little sand to that hourglass and let people read about you on gossip sites while standing right next to you in real life! Epically meta mobile uploads! Remember, it’s not desperate if it’s profitable.
• Stray cats
Cats and the internet are already best friends, so this is really the next logical step. See a cat without its collar? Strap a 4G MiFi to it and voila! No need to bother with humane societies anymore—now orphan cats are a fun, social WiFi game! Plus, free labor!
Alright, this one I’m semi-serious about. Other than the Mary Poppins Pigeon Lady and the bored-and-lonely-at-lunch-with-extra-bread, no one is getting any joy from pigeons. Un-spike those ledges, folks, because now those cooing sky-rodents are the fastest collective internet connection in the city. Train them to fly up to the window on your floor, and posting baby pictures while at work is suddenly possible even on the 57th floor. Besides, birdseed for WiFi is the best deal in town.