Google Says: Don’t be a Glasshole
The fine line between what technology can do for humans and what humans will do with technology is one that we dance on and around every time technology advances. Just because we can do something should we? Well, that’s a question one asks in the theoretical or a the world where everyone chooses to play by the rules. But that world isn’t necessarily one that geeks feel constrained by. You could argue that if a technological advance can be hacked or cracked or misused in some form or fashion their are those who feel duty bound to go down that path. Many of the innovations we embrace today came from that spirit.
Google Glass which is soon to be made available to the general public is one of those technologies. Even in its invite stage it has created some friction as early adopters have pushed a few envelopes, and society is trying to grabble with the potential for Glass wearers intruding into their privacy. Some institutions have banned the device, a gentleman was hauled out of a movie theatre for wearing Glass on the suspicion that he was recording the movie, a lady was given a ticket for wearing Glass while driving. She later beat that rap.
In preparing the way for a larger Google Glass roll out, Google has issued a list of do’s and don’ts for Glass users. It’s a subtle way of saying that Google is preparing for some blowback and some friction ahead. Realistically, there will be no way from keeping Glass users from pushing the envelope. In fact, we’ve already seen an App created that can use facial recognition to find out all sorts of things about you. Google’s foothold against that would be to not allow the App officially. But then there is the hacker community. Let’s just admit the truth, there is no control over where things will go with this kind of technology. Do you really think pre-pubescent boys aren’t going to be using this technology with the same mind set that they have used for peering up girls’ skirts?
But society, always lags behind innovation and how it can disrupt the way things are, whether through laws or just what is deemed socially acceptable. Unfortunately, the historical norm is that changes brought about by something new are usually reactive after abuses or unpredictable results occur.
Technology can be exploited for good and for bad. That’s always been the case, that will always be the case. Google asking users not to be Glassholes is an important PR step. I just hope no one at Google thinks that absolves them from what this new technology may yield in the future. Once you open Pandora’s box, it is tough to close it again.
Here’s a list of the do’s and don’ts:
- Explore the world around you. Glass puts you more in control of your technology and frees you to look up and engage with the world around you rather than look down and be distracted from it. Have a hangout with your friends, get walking directions to a fantastic new restaurant, or get an update on that delayed flight.
- Take advantage of the Glass voice commands. Glass can free your hands up to do other things like golfing, cooking, or juggling flaming torches while balancing on a beach ball (but also see Don’ts #2). This is great for looking up how many ounces in a cup while you cook, or taking a one-of-a-kind photo from your unique perspective.
- Ask for permission. Standing alone in the corner of a room staring at people while recording them through Glass is not going to win you any friends (see Don’ts #4). The Glass camera function is no different from a cell phone so behave as you would with your phone and ask permission before taking photos or videos of others.
- Use screen lock. Glass screen lock works like your smartphone’s screen lock: it passcode-protects your device to help prevent others from using it. If you ever lose your device or have it stolen by a budding online resale entrepreneur, you can turn off Glassware and perform a remote wipe (e.g. factory reset) of the device, removing all your information from the device. All you need to do is go to your MyGlass page on your browser, or the MyGlass App on your phone.
- Be an active and vocal member of the Glass Explorer Community. The Explorer Program was created in order to have a place where our Explorers can give feedback, share content and communicate with the Glass team. It’s been hugely successful over the past year and this is due to our wonderful group of Explorers. They are constantly sharing their worlds with us and with each other, allowing us to hear and work on all the great feedback and stories our Explorers give us (and, wow, do they give us a lot!).
- Glass-out. Glass was built for short bursts of information and interactions that allow you to quickly get back to doing the other things you love. If you find yourself staring off into the prism for long periods of time you’re probably looking pretty weird to the people around you. So don’t read War and Peace on Glass. Things like that are better done on bigger screens.
- Rock Glass while doing high-impact sports. Glass is a piece of technology, so use common sense. Water skiing, bull riding or cage fighting with Glass are probably not good ideas.
- Wear it and expect to be ignored. Let’s face it, you’re gonna get some questions. Be patient and explain that Glass has a lot of the same features as a mobile phone (camera, maps, email, etc.). Also, develop your own etiquette. If you’re worried about someone interrupting that romantic dinner at a nice restaurant with a question about Glass, just take it off and put it around the back of your neck or in your bag.
- Be creepy or rude (aka, a “Glasshole”). Respect others and if they have questions about Glass don’t get snappy. Be polite and explain what Glass does and remember, a quick demo can go a long way. In places where cell phone cameras aren’t allowed, the same rules will apply to Glass. If you’re asked to turn your phone off, turn Glass off as well. Breaking the rules or being rude will not get businesses excited about Glass and will ruin it for other Explorers.