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Internet access for the homeless

Posted by: on May 31, 2009 | One Comment

Castells discussed the danger of “black holes” in our urban areas, places that are outside the major flows of capital and information and that do not allow people to escape. But those who are determined to escape have begun to find ways to recapture the flows of information:

“You don’t need a TV. You don’t need a radio. You don’t even need a newspaper,” says Mr. Pitts, an aspiring poet in a purple cap and yellow fleece jacket, who says he has been homeless for two years. “But you need the Internet.”

The homeless in San Francisco, accordingly, spend some of their meager resources on Internet access, picking up netbooks or older laptops and using free wifi.

This story reminds me of one I linked to a while back, on homeless people relying on mobile phones in lieu of fixed addresses. As wifi-enabled smartphones become more common, perhaps we’ll see pay-as-you-go, peripheral-ready smartphones that can better serve the needs of low-income and homeless people, bringing some light to these black holes.

1 Comment

  1. Janet S.
    May 31, 2009

    Austin Public libraries limit use of their computers to 30 minutes at a time, and 120 minutes per day in the whole system. But wifi access in public libraries is unlimited, as far as I can tell. So, to be connected, it’s best to have your own device.

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