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Google Glass: the tech’s desirable but it might not be socially acceptable

I’m not a fan of Google Glass because I am absolutely certain it won’t be socially acceptable to be video or audio recording people around you without their permission, or to be online constantly without others knowing. It’s just creepy and people won’t put up with people that wear them in their company.

Andrew Chen, a San Francisco based entrepreneur, believes Google Glass will be a failure, he compares it to the Apple Newton. But he’s more concerned about the tech than how it’ll be used:

One day wearable computing glasses may turn out awesome, but I’m convinced that the Google Glass will be like the Apple Newton- a visionary product well ahead of its time, and maybe 10 years after its release, someone will figure out how to make it mainstream using a different design.

I don’t think the failure of Google Glass and its ilk will have much to do with the technology, that’s fairly straightforward and it certainly won’t take ten years to sort out. The failure of Google Glass will be because it fails our social norms, namely that we won’t stand for being videoed, watched, recorded by friends, family, or colleagues, whoever and whenever.

Surveillance is OK for buildings, but it’s most certainly not OK for personal and business relationships.

With a smartphone at least you know a person is using it, and what they are doing with it. With Google Glass you don’t know if it’s on, what the device is doing (is the “X-ray” feature active?), what is the user looking at on their screen, are they present, or distracted? Are they publishing this online right now? Or later?

Google Glass a product designed by engineers that clearly don’t understand interpersonal interactions. It’s for the culturally clueless, who will remain sidelined in social situations as they currently are now, without the glasses. And what will they stare at when they are out and about in public spaces, too awkward to meet people’s gazes, if they don’t have a phone screen to hide behind?

In a world of constant digital intrusions and layers of augmented realities, good old unadorned reality will gain a new following; because it can’t be manipulated, and it is rare: that sunset only lasts a moment, that connection with your friend, that look, that touch. It’s gone in an instant and therefore so much more valuable than a million digitally rendered experiences.

People will show their respect for each other by showing that they are totally present with one another — and you can’t do that if you are wearing Google Goggles.

In the near future, “Be here right now” will be a new (renewed) mantra.


This article by Tom Foremski originally appeared on Silicon Valley Watcher, a Burn Media publishing partner.

Author | Tom Foremski: In Silicon Valley

Tom Foremski: In Silicon Valley
Tom Foremski is a former Financial Times journalist and the Founder and Publisher of Silicon Valley Watcher, which is an online news site reporting on the business of Silicon Valley and the culture of disruption. More

4 Comments

  1. Ivan Yglesia

    April 25, 2013 at 7:20 am

    I cannot wait to get the final Glass looks awesome. Most people will get it when they see the world buying it too. All need technology or most looks like it won’t catch on but Google knows best is a multibillion corporation. People are stupid if they think Google is set out to fail by saying that is creepy. People hated it cell phones before Android came along. But Android has given them a whole new world and glasses now are stupid and hardly anyone buys them. Google will take over this business too soon.

  2. Zane Slocombe

    April 25, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    You do understand that this will only get miniaturised and placed on contact lenses and then you will wish for the halcyon days of Google Glass when there was a visible indication that you may be recorded.

    I think if there is already recording taking place inside a building, then there can be no objection. Banks, Government Offices and other high security institutions such as prisons and military installations might not be so eager, insurance companies may offer a discount, think about speedy litigation resolution.

    Think of it as an inclusive device, which allows you to bring the geographically remote to the meeting. Journalists, PR’s already tweet up to the minute information from conferences or meetings. People have social media status updates when they are in the same room, often so they can include the geographically remote.

    Ever thought that if someone spent the day in your shoes (or your Google Glass perhaps), they could understand you better, love you more, or give you that much needed pay rise? Now everyone’s a star, watching you, watching me. Technological dream and totalitarian nightmare rolled into one. I can’t wait for the really creative and inventive content produced from this technology.

  3. bigpicture1

    April 25, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Tom, I’m with you that this technology will be viewed as socially unacceptable, as it certainly deserves to be. If Google Glass becomes available to the public as described in the article, it should have warning labels that read: “Attempting to wear this product in some counties may place you in the running for the Darwin Awards, or at least for lengthy stays in prison wile awaiting your espionage trials to begin. Even in the U.S., walking into some neighborhoods, environments or social situations with a camera, may place your health at risk. Society in general, is miserably failing to address the evolving ethical standards surrounding telecommunication & developing technologies. By wearing this product you acknowledge you have read the disclaimer & will not hold GG or its shareholders responsible for any unseen or future consequences.”

  4. Nic Caldwell

    May 1, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    The “X-Ray” is that a new feature that you just made up to try to scare more people to your narrow minded Bullshit dribble?

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