I don’t think I’d wear it very often. Don’t get me wrong, it looks awesome, like when science-fiction meets reality. When the price decreases significantly, which it’s expected to this year, it will be hard to ignore. It’s clear Google and other tech companies want to lead us into the future with Glass and other “wearable electronics,” but I’m not sure it’s the future I want.
I’m not a technophobe; I’ve had to troubleshoot many a bug because of installing the bleeding edge. I love fixing things that aren’t broken. But when technology affects the way I interact with others, I tend to be more conservative.
Take Facebook for example. Facebook connects the world and makes most of its users always within reach. I can message any given Facebook friend and the vast majority will respond within a few hours, usually faster. If I’m already using Facebook on their website or on one of their mobile apps, I have no misgivings. I’m on Facebook voluntarily; I’m explicitly telling others that I’m free to interact, not busy. But when I’m not using one of their apps, I usually don’t want to be bothered with it.
For some, always being in reach is a feature. For me, it’s a bug. When eating dinner with friends in November, one of the group thanked us for not taking out our phones during the meal. No one browsed Facebook, responded to text messages, checked their emails, perused Twitter. Why did she thank us? Because that has become the norm for many people. Sit down at restaurant, phone on the table. Phone buzzes, must be important.
When the mobile phone came out, people could finally communicate with the rest of the world from almost everywhere. Blackberry and the pager gave people more flexibility with their work schedules. At a cost. Work came home. No place was sacred. Many referred to it as a “crackberry,” an addiction.
Last February, I turned off notifications on my phone because the constant emails, Facebook messages, and text messages disrupted my life. Studying: Bzzzt. Eating with friends: ding ding. In class: iPhone xylophone ringtone. I had had enough. I turned off vibration alerts and only checked those services when I voluntarily took my phone out. Instead of my life interrupting my phone, my phone now interrupts my life.
If I had Glass, would my life interrupt Glass or would Glass interrupt my life?
I’ve tried Glass. With the current range of apps it’s easy to imagine putting Glass away most of the time, taking it out for the occasional photo or video. Glass doesn’t yet enhance most of the activities I do in my day-to-day. Will it help me be a better student in class or more productive while studying? Not yet.
Glass apps that Google currently showcase aim to improve a specific activity: providing analytics while biking and golfing and creating a more intuitive way to translate text between languages. These apps give a small peek into the great future promised by Glass.
But what happens when apps become so good that it becomes the norm for people to wear Glass all the time? How long will it be before I go to a restaurant with friends and everyone’s wearing Glass at the table? My pocket buzzes. Two new photos of me uploaded to Facebook. Weird, I don’t remember posing for any photos.
Google calls current customers of Glass “Explorers.” Others affectionately call them “Glassholes.”
If I had Glass, I would choose not to be a Glasshole.
It will take effort. I will make mistakes, just like everyone else. But the first generation of Glass users has a chance to shape the social conventions that future users will follow.
Glass differs from the smartphones in that it makes the camera and microphone even more convenient, in a way unparalleled in other wearables. Information has yet to be made more convenient, due to the limitations of the screen size and the voice recognition (though Google improves the latter using the audio data it collects).
If I had Glass, I would accept the responsibility that it bestows.