So assuming you’re a tech person and you haven’t been under a rock for the past few months, you’ve likely heard a number of things recently about Google’s Project Glass. As we near the expected developer and public release dates, there has been considerably more talk about Glass, what it will do and how people might use it. I’ve noticed what I consider to be a very odd trend in the tech coverage of Glass, a lot of baseless and speculative hatred of the product. To be fair, Google’s proclamation that cell phones are “emasculating” haven’t endeared them to the tech press at all, but it really seems to me like the tech press really wants to hate this one.
What’s interesting to me though is not that they seem to hate it, as the tech community often likes to hate on the new and different (see coverage of the original iPhone), but rather how that hatred is being expressed. Rather than declaring that “Glass is too expensive” or “it can’t wash my car / hax0r the Gibson / play crysis / run windows and is therefore useless to the average consumer,” the tech press has taken a new tact: they’ve declared Glass as the end of society as we know it.
All around the net there are examples of the tech community declaring Glass a social disaster like nothing we’ve ever seen before.
And yet I can’t help but hear in my head, as I read these diatribes, a old man standing on a street corner decrying the advent of the personal Walkman, or the cell phone, or instant messaging. If we go far enough back in time, i can even hear an old story teller decrying the first books as the end of the social event that was verbal history communication. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe that if Glass catches on that it will be a game changer, and it will change our social lives and interactions, but the fact is there have been many such inventions before, and there will be many after. To dismiss Glass this early out of some fear of the change it will bring to the social structure is, to me, an act of great hypocrisy on the part of the tech community. We have all been responsible in some way for ushering in a new era of technology that people before us felt would fundamentally of horribly ruin society. On the whole, these changes have been for the better, and assuming Glass catches on, you wouldn’t go wrong wagering that the changes it brings about will be for the better too. So go on, grab your new bad Sci-fi cyborg glasses, and wear it and enjoy the future, or don’t because it can’t was your car, or it’s too expensive, but don’t dismiss it out of hand because of its potential to change society. Changing society is what new technology is all about.