Why Google Glass Exposes New Questions about the Intrusiveness of Technology in our Lives

A Facebook post by Libby Hubbard (AKA Doctress Neutopia) featured about an article in Wired about a Google Glass (hole) user experience. http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2013/12/glasshole/.

An Academic who I had met at Arcosanti several years back by the name of Barry Vacker mentioned the word Simulacrum in relation to the article which he criticized as “sophmoric and laughable.” Simulacrum was a word I first became aware of when reading post-modern theory (in my college days) from Jean Baudrillard but I never “grokked” it in my mind and so it still confuses me I have to admit. I was more of a Michel Faucault, Jean Francios Lyotard post-modernist. Simulacrum:  a fake image of the real? Ill have to think about it more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulacrum.

What I see is that the article is a user experience piece and was written informally – its in Silicon Valley geek style (as the writer admits that’s what he is and what he represents – a reporter for that culture and frame of mind). Even if it was laughable or sophmoric , we can still explore the points the author is trying to make: people have not fully adjusted to the potential of this new technology. Of course Vacker is a professional writer and academic so he has the experience of really trying to professional write something which I really do not. However he never got into specifics about what about the article was sophmoric.

Indeed when I met the writer and academic at Arcosanti, I briefly and distantly recall this us debating about some topic I have long since forgotten. However what I recall is this sense that because I was not an academic without a Phd, that I was going to be held to a lesser and inferior standard as a thinker and person of ideas. Its sort of understandable right? To consider that if you put all your life energy into a structure designed to facilitate higher learning and thinking, you are bound to think your mind and way of thinking is superior to those who are not part of your academic culture and way of life. Yet when you feel judged by an academic who deems you inferior to them intellectually, it also understandable to consider it a negative experience that gives real life meaning to that idea of ivory tower intellectualism.

Indeed to say something is “laughable” is almost like disregarding everything that was said, like it was a waste of time and there was nothing redeeming in the article what so ever. Still there may be value to something’s laughability. Indeed I find much of what I see on TV, in celebrity culture and even in the news as laughable but I still get some value from it. Admittedly the article may be unremarkable, but it tells a story and shares a experience about a new technology and how that experience affected the user – I found some value to that and it got me to think more and deeper not just about the possible implications of this cutting edge technology, but about the people from that sub-culture who pioneer, develop and promote these technologies to the global masses.

I think its more about style than any real substantive problem with the writer. I would have liked to see the author actually describe the experience of using it a bit better. Example: how do you surf and how the images come up on the glasses and how this affects how you see things through the glasses.

The writer also expresses a sense of discomfort about wearing the device and how others see it and him in wearing it as a glasshole/asshole as he becomes a walking monitor/monitoring device of others which understandably might make people uncomfortable. I can relate to this on some level, having taken pictures of people who did not want their pictures taken and looked uncomfortable and in a few cases expressed their desire to not have their picture taken.

I also would have liked to have seen more about the possibility that this data can be another tool for monitoring not just the patterns of the user but of the people he watches and collects data on with his “Glass”. This relates not only to the government but also private corporations and how they could develop software to collect and data mind data from Google Glass users. Indeed I have read other articles about Glass that included more information about the specifics of this which was lacking in this article.

Its almost like the social unease about how other’s view him suspiciously or uncomfortably as a Google Glass Users is the defining essence of this article. Possibly its reflecting a collective concern or expression about about the potential abuse and intrusiveness of this powerful tool. While having many possible positive benefits, it another way to chip away at our privacy.

Consider that most likely in about five years from now there will be millions of these devices collecting huge amounts of data just at idle as the person wearing them does their daily life duties and routines. So it has the potential to unconsciousness and unintentionally transform the mundane and routine into the extraordinary. The implications could be way beyond those of the person wearing it. It may indeed affect thousands of people and without many of these people even knowing they have been “locked in” to the “Matrix” thanks to Google Glass capturing them as the User passes them. Apparently there is a software which can get a lock on a face (facial recognition software) and ID them without either that person being aware of its.

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