Google has released a new video promoting its forthcoming Google Glass product. I think it’s a terrible idea.
The most obvious issue is the distraction. Yes you might walk into things, but I’m sure there will be safeguards for that. What bothers me is that I know I’d be compelled to look at that little display all the time, even if just to confirm that it’s working. Which leads to a larger problem.
Don’t we spend enough time staring at tiny screens? Just look around you. A growing number of people observe life’s big and small moments through a screen. Removing what little friction that remains – the four or five seconds it takes to pull a smartphone from a pocket – means the compulsion to record and share every little thing that ever happens will grow, and be met, at an incredible rate. And at what cost?
I got into a debate about this with Mashable’s Christina Warren on Facebook today. She shared this example of how the ever-ready state of Google Glass would benefit her:
“I was in an Uber this morning crossing over the Manhattan Bridge. Really, really lovely opportunity for a photo. I grabbed my phone, had issues with the framing and focus and didn’t get off a good shot. I was actually thinking – how cool would it be if my glasses had a camera built in so I could zero in from that point of view and focus in on my object and snap an image or start capturing a video.”
Or, how about you don’t worry about fiddling with a camera or a phone and just enjoy the Manhattan Bridge for what it is? Sit back, exhale, look at it. It’s beautiful. Just see it and enjoy it. I think of George Carlin bemoaning one-hour photo development shops. “You just saw the damn thing! Why do you need the picture in an hour?”
But that’s the problem. People are compelled to record and/or share every mundane moment of their lives. When we remove that last little bit of friction, who will experience anything that isn’t processed through a screen?
Anyone who follows me on Facebook, Twitter and ADN knows that I’m guilty of over-sharing, too. It’s true and I hate it. I lament the fact that I’ve succumbed to the tendency to over share that’s so prevalent in modern, connected society. I’m embarrassed yet compelled to tell the world how much money I spend on gas or what movie I just watched. A product like Google Glass will make it even easier to inundate people with such banal nonsense. I don’t “hate” sharing, but I really dislike how we, as a society, spend so much time staring at little screens. I dislike even more that I do it, too.
Who is this video for?
Let’s get back to the last promo video. It shows people:
- Riding in a hot air balloon
- Swinging on a trapeze
- Backstage at the ballet
- Flying an airplane
- Sculpting ice
- Figure skating
- Performing aerial acrobatics
- Equestrian vaulting
- Juggling fire
- Walking a fashion catwalk
Who the hell does these things? How about showing me how Glass can help me in the grocery store or improve communication with my kids’ schools? That’s what real people do.
I also love the guy who checks the weather report while he’s outside. YOU’RE IN THE WEATHER, LUKE HOWARD. Jeeze, stop staring at your glasses for 30 seconds and LOOK AROUND. In another scene, the person in the hot air balloon is asked, “How’s the view from up there?” The honest answer would be, “I have no idea because I’m staring at my Google Glasses.” And really, a GoPro camera will recored all of those sporty activities just as well.
The Potential Good
It’s not all bad. Glass would be a fantastic piece of assistive technology for people with motor impairments or other physical disabilities. Brilliant, in fact. I’d like to see some testing in those situations and hope it happens.
In the meantime, I think Google Glass is ridiculous and I don’t want it. Now excuse me while I live-tweet my walk to the mailbox.