In my earlier post today, it was before I went out with glass on my face. My wife and I did a quick trip to Costco at about 5pm today and I went in wearing Glass with the little mono ear bud dongle. For the most part people were politely trying not to stare at me (although I could tell that there were trying to figure out what that was on my head). I was wearing my typical winter getup, leather jacket and black fedora so it was only slightly disconcerting to the people. I walked around the store and did a few “OK Glass, Take a picture” of items and their prices. At a certain point, my wife and I had to back track to an end cap near the entrance to look at something on sale. When I turned around I noticed that the young guy trying to get customers to sign up for Amex was looking at me funny. Kinda had a smile on his face. He said, “Is that..” and I interrupted, “Google Glass”
He said, “That’s so cool, how is it working for you.” I gave the explanation above about the simple utility of taking a picture here and there, although I’d be seen as talking to myself. He chuckled. “I’ve never seen one.” I mentioned that one limitation was that although it was bt tethered to my iPhone, w/o internet access it was basically just a bt earpiece and camera and no more. He said that when he first saw me he was wondering if it was some weird earpiece (because of the dongle of course). A co-worker of his heard our conversation and tried to tell me to go and talk to the phone stand there because I could get a wi-fi hotspot from Verizon. I mentioned I could do that with my phone as is so getting another device wasn’t worth it at the moment.
Anyway, I continued to shop and snap off pictures of potential items we might buy. Then I had an “Avoid being a Glasshole moment. I had to visit the facilities, and immediately took Glass off and put it in its pouch and then into my pocket. It started to hit me that general walking around might be ok, but there are certain places where it wouldn’t be acceptable.
When I was done, I put it back on. of course on the drive to and back I did not have it on also, having something obscuring my 49-year-old eyesight at nightfall (even off) is like having a blind spot on your face.
Finally I came home. I’m coming to the conclusion that the glass is very similar to my Livescribe pen. As you know the Livescribe pens have audio recording capability that synchronizes with what you’re writing for later playback. both the glass and the Livescribe are great when doing research or listening to a public lecture, as a couple of examples. However because they are taking on a normal operation (looking or in the case of a Livescribe pen, taking notes) that are culturally perceived as mostly non-threatening, and then adding the ability to record a secondary track that may or may not be detectable to the people in the environment, you have an ethical privacy situation that you are creating.
Here’s the dilemma that both devices create. people see you doing one thing…and assume that there is an imperfect recording (in the observers brain…or even on paper) of the scene. However, with these devices, there is the possibility of a secondary recording (in this case video or pictures, in the case of the Livescribe an audio recording) that would necessarily need someone’s else’s approval to do (at least tacit).
The difference with holding up a phone and snapping off a picture is that the gesture of lifting the camera and addressing your target is very obvious and someone can ask you to stop. in the case of these extension of the human recording operation devices, one might not know that that is what you are doing.
I also went into the Costco wine/liquor shop for a moment and when I had gathered my purchase and went to the counter the rep was looking at me funny as I handed him my credit card. I said, “Yes, it’s a google glass.” His response was “Way cool, I’ve never seen one, how does it work for you?”
This is turning out to be the common question now 🙂