Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Do Not Ignore iHobo

[Click the screen-cap or point your browser here:

And now, at last, you can download a hobo. A UK charity called Depaul UK has created an iPhone app (not yet available in the U.S.) designed to attract donations from the text-messaging masses. It's called iHobo, a simulator that allows users to manage the life of a street person over a three-day period.

The principle is simple enough: "Once you've tried to help a virtual one, you'll feel more inclined to help a real one… Ignore him, and his life spirals out of control."

Yes, he taps on the glass.

Of course, the real lesson of this particular game is that you shouldn't give money to street people; you should give money to charities that help street people (such as Depaul UK).

Incidentally while researching this phenomenon, I came across a similar experiment running in New York that allows you to use your cellphone to "shelter" virtual homeless people.

Here's how it works: You see a digital homeless person superimposed against a building, along with a message: "To get him off the streets text HOME to…"

Send the text and the street person gets up and walks through a door. Thereafter you're invited to text over a "small mobile donation." Problem solved!

See for yourself:


Anonymous said...

Do you actually text message them? Or is it fake message?

Andrew Wood said...

The text is as "fake" as the hobo. After you text, the hobo gets up and departs via an open door. The subsequent text sent to your phone, inviting a pledge, can make a real difference however.