Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How the Homeless are staying wired

Otherwise ostracized, the homeless feel connected and welcomed online (photo source: wikimaniacs.com)

I LOVED this WSJ article profiling how the homeless connect to the internet and digital media. I go to the library all the time and meet homeless people there, hogging up the computers. If there is someone who needs an escape, its them; and not only do they use it, but I find them to be some of the most educated and informed people I've come across.

Like most San Franciscans, Charles Pitts is wired. Mr. Pitts, who is 37 years old, has accounts on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. He runs an Internet forum on Yahoo, reads news online and keeps in touch with friends via email. The tough part is managing this digital lifestyle from his residence under a highway bridge.

"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."

Mr. Pitts's experience shows how deeply computers and the Internet have permeated society. A few years ago, some people were worrying that a "digital divide" would separate technology haves and have-nots. The poorest lack the means to buy computers and Web access. Still, in America today, even people without street addresses feel compelled to have Internet addresses.[...]

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