In a wonderful bit of blue sky thinking, Austin’s South By South West festival will see have-nots converted into hotspots.

Under an eyebrow-elevating wi-fi scheme, homeless people are set to operate as mobile wi-fi routers over the course of the festival. As The Stool Pigeon note, the programme is the brainchild of a project called Homeless Hotspots. People of no fixed abode are loaned MiFi hardware; laptop users are then able to use their services by giving a cash donation, or making a contribution online via PayPal.

Although some have criticised the project as more than a little sinister – those participating have to wear T-Shirts saying “I am a 4G hotspot” – the company behind it have defended the programme as a means of elaborating the familiar ‘Big Issue’ model. A spokesmen for BBH said: “As digital media proliferates, these newspapers face increased pressure. Our hope is to create a modern version of this successful model, offering homeless individuals an opportunity to sell a digital service instead of a material commodity”.

The music leg of SXSW takes place on March 13-18. Further information and details of the gargantuan line-up are available on the SXSW website. In a moment of delicious irony, the front page of the site is currently running a story titled ‘Amber Case Explains How Technology has Made Us All Cyborgs’.





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