Google Glass: let’s talk about it, not fear it

Google Glass does raise privacy question - but let's talk about the issues and etiquette, rather than being afraid. Plus: a chance for Google Glass Explorers to get a free trip to Berlin…

We’ve been talking about Google Glass for a while now, but it’s all been very theoretical. We’ve seen a few stage demos and videos, and that’s been it. Well, that’s about change. The Google Glass Explorers – the first few thousand people who will be given the chance to but and wear Glass – have been selected, and informed. The lucky winners – and there are some well-known names on the list –  haven’t yet been given a date when they’ll get their glasses, but it must be coming soon…

Will the full-scale commercial release targeted for the end of this year, or early next year, we have some thinking to do. As some videos and articles have been quick to point out, the presence of unobtrusive wearable devices that allow constant recording without any visible sign that they’re doing so raises all sorts of questions:

The stealth nature of Google Glass is raising concerns among some lawmakers and privacy experts who say the device makes it too easy for users to spy on others and its development signals a deeper blurring between the digital and real worlds. We all may understand the safety hazards and social norms presented when holding our phones up to record or text others, but wearable computers, because they are more inconspicuous, present complications, especially whether they can be regulated through existing electronic surveillance laws, critics say.

Other efforts have been more satirical, such as a video showing a date through the perspective of Google Glass. Much as it raises questions, though, it’s pretty clear that the main issue is that the guy wearing the glasses is a creep… And that’s the issue, isn’t it? We’re blaming the technology again, just because it makes unsavoury behaviour easy. Juts because something’s become more straightforward to do doesn’t keen we should abdicate responsibility for our decision to do it.

New technology is always greeted with caution and fear as well as excitement and anticipation. If Glass takes off – or a smilier piece of wearable tech – we’ll have to start developing new rules and etiquette around it. Just because we can do something with the tech, doesn’t mean that we should – or that others should find it acceptable. I don’t think many people would find a first date an appropriate time to wear the Glass, both for the privacy reasons outlines in the video, and for the simple fact that they are a constant reminder that your date’s attention are not focused solely on you.

I’ve expressed scepticism before about how pervasive Glass will become – but that’s based on the balance between the reward you get from wearing them, and the inconvenience that comes with constantly wearing glasses. The privacy concerns are not a great reason for dismissing them as a useful and fun tool – but as more people start using them, and we get a sense of what they can actually do, it’s becoming a conversation with having.

Win a trip to Berlin with your Google Glass!

Are you one of the Google Glass Explorers? Lucky you! Let us know, and, if you get your Glass in time, we will fly you to Berlin, Germany at our expense, to show your new glasses at NEXT Berlin on 23/24 April. All you need to do is get on stage and talk about your experiences so far. We will, of course, also walk you around in Berlin, and see what happens. So this is your chance for a trip to Europe – get in touch!