On Google Glass

There's an ongoing debate between some friends of mine and I about Google Glass, the Google project to be launched this year that puts a smartphone interface before your eyes like a pair of glasses. My friends think that Glass is a terrible idea, because it's important to them to be able to put the smartphone away and interact with the world unmediated. One friend compared it to the "gargoyles" in Neal Stephenson's novel Snow Crash, who live their lives constantly recording and documenting every minute and so are always at a remove from reality, unable to experience it without mediation.

Some of the same friends who complain about Glass also complained about cell phones when they started becoming ubiquitous ('if I'm not at home I don't want you to be able to reach me') and later complained about smartphones ('those things are useless'). And while I do still know some hold-outs without cell phones, almost everyone else has a smartphone now and enjoys it. It takes a certain amount of adjustment, especially for us old fogeys who didn't grow up taking the Internet for granted, but once you realize that you can get public transit directions to anywhere while standing on a streetcorner, look up a random fact over dinner or purchase a birthday present for instant delivery while at a birthday party, the value of a tool like a smartphone starts to hit home.

Likewise, I think most people won't understand the value of something like Glass until they see the early adoptors following directions without having to look back and forth at their phone or taking pictures the instant something happens. Assuming that the voice recognition interface is robust enough (a big if, though tools like Siri have shown the way), Google Glass might not create a remove between ourselves and reality, but instead eliminate the remove we already have between ourselves and technology. Indeed, not having to reach for your phone could make you not less but more able to just experience the world as it happens in front of you. And to me, that's very exciting.

Comments

i doubt i'll ever adopt

i doubt i'll ever adopt because it's unlikely that google glass will turn up in frames that fit my giant head.

this will be the resurgence

this will be the resurgence of the bt headset because there's no way they're going to be able to do voice recognition accurately enough without a boom mic. The physics just don't work out for omnidirectional mics hidden into the glasses.

what about the privacy issue?

what about the privacy issue? it's easy to tell someone to stop pointing their cameraphone or actual camera at you, but i don't know what that dude getting on the bus or coming over to my bonfire is recording. i see it creating awkward situations among friends that don't want to be all facially-recognized and transcripted by google's AI.

I submitted -

I submitted - https://plus.google.com/u/0/108174024464711039904/posts/69SxvLDwMc2 - the following to the the Google Glass team:

"Hello +Google Glass folks, I have an idea. Imagine if there was a setting in your Google setup where you could determine who could record you with Google Glass. The setup could even pull from your Google+ circles. You could click "public" if you want to allow everyone to record you or pick & choose from your circles or individuals or de-select everything to opt-out.

I believe this could address many, perhaps all, of the panopticon related concerns that have been brought up recently. "

Of course it does presuppose that you have a Google account of some sort.