This afternoon, the Observer points us to Underheard in New York, an interesting, if misguided project in which three interns from Bartle Bogle Hegarty, an ad agency, gave four homeless men prepaid cell phones and set them up with Twitter accounts. How’s it going?
The project description reads, “In a time when communication is all around us, we felt it was necessary to give a voice to the people who needed it most. Between Jan. 2009 and Jan. 2010 the total number of unsheltered individuals within New York City rose an estimated 34%.” It urges readers to get to know them. Four males are participating:
Bio: “Tweeting from a prepaid cell phone. Originally from Puerto Rico. Looking to tell his story. Homeless.”
Bio: “Tweeting from a prepaid cell phone. A native New Yorker and a Giants fan. Homeless.”
Bio: “Tweeting from a prepaid cell phone. Originally from the Dominican Republic. Taking classes to be a chef. Homeless.”
Bio: “Tweeting from a prepaid cell phone. Working to regain his life. STRANDED N FIGHTIN TO GET OUT!!!”
A post on the Underheard blog today reads:
We hope that the positive response we’ve gotten so far will inspire you and others to help the homeless person who lives on your block, in your neighborhood, or in your city. You can also fight homelessness by donating your time, goods or funds to the shelter or mission nearest to you.
While the actual goals of the project remain pretty vague, it’s an interesting sociological experiment less for how the men use the often superfluous service and more for how existing Twitter users decide to interact. Thankfully, from what we can see, it tends to be both positive and supportive.