07:14 AM

Google Glass - Innovating A Social Failure?

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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 smart phone 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.

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Related: The Google Glass Innovation Forum is meeting this Wednesday at Citizen Space in San Francisco. It's sponsored by Metaio.