In an interesting story, the Wall Street Journal covered the homeless population of San Francisco and showed that some of them are almost as connected as someone with a home. This story is similar to how we learned that the homeless population in Washington DC was using cell phones and honestly at the time I thought having a cell phone and being homeless was pretty amazing, except this latest puts the Washington DC group to shame in terms of connectivity.
Take Charles Pitts for example, he is 37 years old and just like many others at his age is on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. He also runs a forum on Yahoo as well as keeps up with current events online and stays in touch with friends via email. Sounds pretty normal until you realize that he is homeless and does this from a laptop somewhere on the street. According to Mr. Pitts, “You don’t need a TV. You don’t need a radio. You don’t even need a newspaper,” “But you need the Internet.” That is a statement I could not agree with more.
Of course, he is not even the most unique example here, another person that was highlighted in the article was Michael Ross and he has quite the setup going. To begin with, Mr. Ross uses a 17-inch HP notebook with a 320GB internal hard drive. He also has a few extra hard drives that contain a total of another 1000GBs of storage. Sounds pretty decent so far, a 17-inch notebook and four external drives, however Mr. Ross has more for staying connected. He also uses both Blockbuster and Netflix for movie rentals and downloads other movies at the public library. He also has an iPod as well as a gas powered generator to power his gadgets — which is all used inside his home — otherwise know as a yellow and blue tent.
Then there are still many more examples, one of which includes 29 year old Paul Weston and his PowerBook that was noted as being his “lifeboat” as well as 49 year old Robert Livngston who carries an Asus netbook.
With a homeless population that seems to be staying pretty connected, it is also nice to see that there are help groups to further educate those who retain the need to stay connected despite their current conditions. At least one person, Lisa Stringer currently runs a programs that teaches job finding as well as computer skills to the homeless and low-income population. According to Lisa, it is “really a symbol in today’s society of being OK and connected,” of course she does not always recommend a computer purchase to someone who is homeless because of “threats, including rain and theft.”