'Don't be creepy' or a 'Glasshole,' Google tells Glass users
The new Google Glass 'Thin' prescription frames in 'tangerine' color rests on a table at the Google Glass Basecamp space at Chelsea Market, Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Published Wednesday, February 19, 2014 7:40AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 19, 2014 8:01PM EST
If users of Google’s Internet-connected eyewear aren’t already facing a backlash from non-users, it certainly appears Google is anticipating one.
On Tuesday, the company released a code of conduct for users of its Glass technology. Other than some advice on how best to use the eyewear, the code of conduct is nothing more than a reminder on the proper social behaviour most people learn by the end of kindergarten.
But the code of conduct is quite telling, showing that even the producer of the technology is well aware of the dangers its product poses to long-established social norms. And while the advice is tongue-in-cheek, it raises questions about whether we’re embracing user-friendly technology without having a rich enough debate on its social costs.
Glass is essentially a smartphone mounted on your face, with users seeing their activity in their lenses. Wearers of the frames can control functions such as taking photos and composing emails all by voice command. Other functions are controlled by a touchpad located on the side of the glasses. By moving your finger forwards or backwards on the touchpad, users can control what they want to do.
It may seem like something straight out of a sci-fi movie, but many argue that one day everyone will be wearing a pair.
Before that happens, however, Google is warning Glass users of the potentials of becoming a social pariah.
Google, for example, warns users that “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.”
The code certainly appears to be fun natured, but Google still appears to be admitting that its latest piece of technology poses dangers to long-established social norms, such as the simple act of human interaction. We’ve already seen this happen with iPhones, as couples in restaurants stare down at their devices instead of at each other, or friends spend as much time texting at a bar as actually talking. Now mounted on someone’s face, Google Glass makes it even easier for people to drift into the online world. And Google knows this.
Another example: Google cautions users to “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.”
There’s no fighting technology. But something like Google’s code of conduct reminds us that along with talking about the benefits of new technology, we need a full discussion on how it can negatively impact the way we interact.