GLASS: Half full or half empty?

By Monique Rodgers

Just in time to take up the baton from the Harlem Shake videos in the never-ending viral video relay, are the Google Glass videos and their parody counterparts. As expected news platforms across the board and the ever eager blogging nation have jumped on the Google Glass wagon and covered almost all aspects of the innovative little Google contraption. The many features and how we, as a technological generation, would be able to use it to our advantage have been covered quite extensively. These are the articles and the parody videos that have maintained the hype generated from the Google Glass- “How it Feels” video. 

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Google Glass Frames. (Photo sponsored from Devin Coldewey)

I, however, would like to explore the practicality of Google Glass, if at all. I say “if at all” as I’m not entirely sure on the practically of this device especially in a South African context. We have been overwhelmed with the social hysteria surrounding the release of the Google Glass initiative and not taken the time to recognise if this is a viable option for many of us middle class folk and whether or not this lovely little device fits into our middle class lifestyles.

 

 I pose the question of practically especially within the South African context and will follow out a little investigation, a micro research project if you will. Let’s then call this a little social experiment done in spirit of curiosity. I will interview a few people on their opinion of Google Glass. I will acquire how people feel about the device’s aesthetics and if they are not accustomed to wearing spectacles, whether or not they are open to wearing Google Glass frames for the technological benefits.

 

I set out to an area that is stated statistically to harbour a more technologically aware pool of people. I chose the City Bowl Market specifically in attempt to get a wide range of opinions. These were some of the opinions on Google Glass and its aesthetics: “I’m all for digital progression…but Google Glass frightens me.” “I think it’s pretty cool hey but I don’t want to look like a robot.” “I don’t normally wear specs but I’m game for Google Glass, it’s got a slender design and looks cool.” A specific response I particularly enjoyed and worthy of a special mention: “The design is very cybot-y but it won’t be long before they find a way to compact it. Soon there’ll be contact lenses, then it will be a part of your eyeball and then eventually they’ll find a way to make it a part of our genetic make-up.”

 

Contrary to what I had believed would be their response, tech know-it-alls are in agreement with the general public. Amongst the overwhelming wave of critical or rather realistic responses, this is what some of the comments from techies were: “For now it’s still a geeky fantasy,” “The hardware is still a little bulky and odd-looking,” and “It brands the wearer as an irredeemable nerd.” Others have used the words “freakish,” “ridiculous” and “pretty goddamn nerdy” to describe Glass. Even Mark Zuckerberg, a main global character in changing social norms seems not too certain, asking, “How do you look out from this without looking awkward?” The common generalisation about “nerds” is a group of people not caring about having “cool card” or rather not having any concern for appearance especially in the name of science and/or technological benefit. It is important to note here that if the smartest and most clued-up tech minds of our generation have these concerns then there is very little hope for the rest of us. 

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Possibly Google Glass’ Predecessor?

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And to match the Google Glass’ “nerdiness”, a possible wind energy source for this nifty little invention?

 I say this because we are an image orientated age. I myself am a victim of vanity and I know I am far from being alone. I know that I am not the only one who checks myself out in most reflective surfaces. Just to check if all is well and everything is place. You’ve done it. I know you have, don’t try denying it. It seems to be a little too far out of the borders of what is considered as socially or fashionably acceptable. As trendy a technological device as this is the general consensus is that society is not desperate enough for the technology that Google Glass offers.

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Google attempting to make Google Glass trendy in some of its advertising campaigns.

 

However, Google is fully aware of Glass’ weakness as a fashion faux pas and they are working hard at it. In a report conducted by the New York Times, Google Glass masterminds are in cahoots with trendy eyewear creator Warby Parker in attempt to make Glass more stylish for the general public. Also, at the New York Fashion Week last year models for a Belgian Princess fashion Designer, Diane Von Furstenberg, strutted their stuff down the runway sporting coloured versions of the glasses and even the Princess herself donned pair for the show.

 

In a Google Glass experimental interview between Charles Rose, Google developer, and Devin Coldewey, contributing writer for msnbc.com, it was brought to light how weird Google Glass wearers would seem especially in the beginning stages as the device catches on in popular culture as not everyone would have it. Rose experiments sending a picture with Glass and takes a picture using the headset, the audience watch his eyes tilt up as he looks at the personal contacts that appear immediately, he then proceeds to nod in confirmation. This validates what an online commenter had said regarding Glass, “This will revolutionize the way pedestrians get hit by cars.”

 

Let this not take away from the genius invention that Google Glass is. I just like to turn things on their head sometimes. I think it’s important. I like to do it, well because I’m curious and I think it’s important, important to see how well things hold out. And I can pay dues were need be and Glass has proved itself. In realistic terms it is important to note that Glass might not be an immediate realisation especially within the South African context, but is definitely a glimpse into our future. Google minds are hard at work trying to edge their way around the very real issue of the device’s aesthetics and it is only a matter of time. Prepare yourselves. 

About Monique Rodgers

A Film and French major. Web-design newbie. Nutcase. Here, I share my technologically-natured findings.

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