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‘Hobo’ culture updated

May 04 2015
Trainhoppers in the USA. © Mike Brodie Trainhoppers in the USA. © Mike Brodie
Homeless people in the US are re-inventing street codes for the 21st century

Homeless people in the United States are re-inventing ‘hobo culture’ for the 21st century, reports American magazine Newsweek.

Homeless people who spoke to the magazine, many of whom identify as ‘trainhoppers’ who travel the country by hopping on and off freight trains transporting goods across the States, claimed that they increasingly use technology including smartphones, laptops and free wi-fi to help them survive.

Important digital tools that some listed include Google Maps; websites such as Couchsurfing.org, which lists free places to stay; Craigslist, which provides adverts for casual jobs; and Hitchwiki.org, where information about hitchhiking is compiled. Others include DumpsterMap.com (a map of skips ripe for diving), WiFiFreeSpot.com (a list of free wi-fi hot spots) and On-Track-On-Line.com (railroad digital scanner frequencies).

“Prior to 2005 or so, all of this was simply done word-of-mouth, which is how it was done for over 100 years,” Huck told Newsweek.

He also reveals he is working with others on developing a new “hobo code for the digitally contected”, which will include wi-fi hotspots and free outlets, while traditional codes used chalk marks to show safe places to sleep and when to move on.

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