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Sites | NeedCom

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July 2000
Beggars can now be Choosy

     .... This presentation of panhandler market values invites the rest of us to consider more fully our reactions to these people and the moral and philosophical prejudices that underlie them.

Maxim, February 2000 (The Swimsuit Issue)
Will Click For Food

     Everybody snickered when Newt Gingrich proposed that homeless people should be given laptop computers. At least then they could access NeedCom and learn how to more effectively separate more prosperous souls from their spare change.

Salon, December16, 1999
Panhandling Made Perfect

      Still wondering what to get mom for Christmas? How about a Panhandler Gift Certificate -- it may not be as luxurious as a silk bathrobe or trip to the spa, but it might just open her mind.
      OK, so perhaps it's not likely that you'll stuff relatives' stockings with "gift certificates" promising prepaid quality time with your local homeless person -- but Cathy Davies, the mind behind NeedCom, hopes to encourage you to at least consider the plight of the panhandler.

Boston Globe Editorial, August 2, 1999
Elevation on the Internet

      The Internet is technology's golden child, but it hasn't achieved its legendary potential. Too often the Web is seen only as a convenience - an easy place to shop, check stock quotes, read newspapers, or chat. Innovations are emerging, but they need research and development support...
      Another Internet invention comes from Web Lab, which supports new uses of communications technology...Web Lab's projects can't be called digital libraries, museums, or other common nouns because they are unique - and as-yet unnamed - forms. A new site called ''NeedCom'' (www.pbs.org/weblab/needcom/), subtitled ''Market Research for Panhandlers'' is devised by California photographer Cathy Davies. This site exemplifies the word interactive

Min's New Media Report, August 2, 1999

      Unique and brilliant, NeedCom explores new paths into the arguments about homelessness and panhandling through this inspired provocation that was underwritten by Web Lab and runs on the PBS site.

Min's New Media Report, August 30, 1999
Case Study: NeedCom: Will Work for Page Views 

      ... As user-generated content becomes more valuable online, editors should consider becoming facilitators, even instigators, of more thoughtful discussion content. Hosted by PBS Online and funded by Web Lab, NeedCom: Market Research for Panhandlers (http://www.pbs.org/weblab/needcom) is a brilliant experiment in moving beyond the pithy poll question or banal "What Do You Think?" plea.

USA Today, August 4, 1999
Rate The Panhandler

      And now for our way-weird market-research category: Rate the pitches from six panhandlers. And then compare your virtual generosity with the Web average. 

ZDNet Y Life Daily, October 5, 1999
Begging For Feedback, by Scott Alexander

      Excerpt: Don't you just hate it when someone on a street corner gives you a lame pitch for spare change? Couldn't they come up with something original? Or at least less offensive? Well now you can do something about it. NeedCom is conducting the first ever panhandling focus group on the Web, and they want your input....  (full article available upon request)

Third Age, August 4, 1999
Take the Quiz; Fork Over

      Which panhandler pitch makes you fork over that "spare change?" Take Public Broadcasting's cybersurvey quiz to find where you're most susceptible.
      A sample survey question: Are panhandlers living on a street welfare system or are they very sharp entrepreneurs? There's also a comparison of anecdotes from real-life panhandlers and the opportunity to put in your own two cents, so to speak.


San Francisco Weekly, July 21, 1999
House of Tudor, by Silke Tudor

      ... NeedCom is a stylish new Web site (sleek wintergreen logo in '50s script, modish black-and-white animated photos, multiple-choice bubbles) that asks you to rate the approaches of six panhandlers with cybercoin -- the $0.00 bubble for those you abhor, up to $1 for those you condone. The panhandlers are real -- the result of countless interviews and hundreds of hours sitting curbside in New York and San Francisco -- and include men and women of different ages, races, backgrounds, and mental and physical constitutions. At the end of the "Panhandling Effectiveness Survey," folks are invited to give their opinion on a number of topics pertaining to poverty, charity, panhandling, and work ethics. "Customer" responses are tallied and categorized for easy reference, as are very candid panhandler remarks on stench, blindness, hustling, taxes, "workday" shifts, and gross annual incomes.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy, August 12, 1999

      Excerpt: Are you more likely to give money to a panhandler holding a sign or to someone who asks you for money? Would it make a difference if one were a man and the other were a woman? A member of a minority group? 
      NeedCom, a new Web site that describes itself as "market research for panhandlers," uses technology to encourage visitors to examine their attitudes about panhandling, homelessness, and poverty.   (full article available upon request)


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