OMG Seriously, Google’s Glasses Won’t Destroy the World

Ever since Google announced in February they were going to choose a select number of people to test their Google glasses, +ProjectGlass, there’s been many blog posts and news stories about how Google Glasses will destroy our privacy, be used to scam women on dates, and spy on would be celebrities in cool but dive bars.

For example, the 5 Point Café in Seattle, Washington, one of my favorite hangouts, has declared their space a “No Google Glass Zone.” That’s right, you must leave your pair of Google Glasses at the door if you wish to enter this establishment. Why?  Well your blind date might just try to scam you using his Google Glasses: How Guys Will Use Google Glasses.

Then there’s the many news stories about how Google Glasses will destroy our privacy – I will point out a few of the more popular ones this afternoon:

Putting Google Glasse in Perspective

I have two words for you – technological determinism. Technological determinism puts forth the following premise: “a reductionist theory that presumes that a society’s technology drives the development of its social structure and cultural values.”

Every since Plato ranted against the new technology of his time, writing, proclaiming loud and fiercely in the Phaedrus that it would destroy our ability to remember anything, technological determinism has had many a spokesperson.

But this barrage of negative press against Google Glasses, and pretty much any form of technology, misses the bigger point – the problem is us, not the technology. Where was all this negative press when cell phones came out with tiny little cameras? Indeed, the problem isn’t the technology it’s how we decide to use it – it’s also about our personal and social ethics.

What we should be worried about is the fact that people are willing to film us without our permission and put that film on YouTube, or other public video spaces.  Remember this lovely video of the girl texting and then falling into a fountain at the mall? Google glasses were not needed by the security people who edited and then uploaded this video – embarrassing the poor woman even further.

Or how about the drunk man in the convenience store? Here’s an oldie but a goodie – let’s make this man’s life a total living hell by posting our surveillance video on YouTube. Screw the man, he got drunk at 10AM, he deserved to be to have his actions broadcast without his permission, as one commenter suggested, rob2049:

The man put himself in that disposition, it may be sad, but there are much worse episodes in this world. Some comedy, is good for all of us, no matter what your view may be, it happened, and whats done is done, so enjoy!”

Next, Google Glasses were not needed to make this mass list of “upskirt” videos easily found on YouTube. Nope, all you need are some shoe cameras for this task.  These can be purchased quickly on Amazon or many other places on the internet.

5 Point Cafe, as Dmitry Maksimov recently commented on their website, will you also be banning cell phones? ipads. Tablets? Shoe Phone Cameras?

What we need to be concerned about is what we do with the technology we have, from writing to Google Glasses and beyond. This is an old argument – and goodness knows it’s one we’ve heard before. But the bottom line comes down to this: Google glasses will not destroy our privacy. We are destroying our privacy. We should ask permission before we take somebody’s picture – we should ask permission before we use someone’s image in order to advertise a product (this one’s for you Facebook).

We should also consider the fact that our society is becoming empathically hungry. Indeed, the above videos I pointed to demonstrate a lack of empathy – regarding both the woman who fell into the fountain, and the drunk man at the convenient store. The people who uploaded those videos did not consider how that woman and man might feel, or how that video might impact their lives.  No time was taken to consider the following: what if that was me? Would I want that video uploaded to YouTube for thousands of people to watch, laugh at, and remember for the rest of my life? No.

In the end we will determine what we decide to be public versus what we decide to be private content. Part of that determination is going to be how we decide to use the technology in our lives. Google glasses will not destroy privacy – we will destroy our own privacy. I hope to get a pair of Google Glasses, but if I start videotaping people, I will do what I do now: I will ask permission, especially if I intend to publish it anywhere!

But make no mistake about it, this is not new. From the moment humans started painting public spaces – the 1884 “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat, to the moment the camera became available, movie recordings, video recordings, instant polaroids, video cameras on our phones, and so on and so forth. Google glasses is not new, it’s just a new step in the ongoing evolution of technology.


Cost Benefits of a Total Recall Project

Not long ago, I read a post over at ProfHacker, the Chronical’s Blog, on the 200 rule: Templeton suggests that we should write 200 words a day, a reasonable commitment, in order to keep our writing chops going. Many instructors, myself included, tend to write less during the school year. For myself, I have three classes this term with approx. 90 students. Since two of these classes are English Comp courses, I will have my hands full reading many, many term papers. But I would like to create this new habit of 200 words a day, and today is the first day of the rest of my life!

In all three courses this term, I am teaching the theme of Lifelogging or Total Recall based on the book, Your Life Uploaded, by Gordon Bell. The premise of this text is simple: digitalize and record everything in your life you possible can, download all that information onto a hard drive or cloud service, create a data base so you can start to search and track your e-memories. In the process, you will become clutter free, have a better account of your life and doings, can help your weak bio-memory and so on. The idea is inspiring and I have worked at implementing it in my own life. When I teach this theme, however, I tend to get two objections to the process: 1) I do not want to have my life public, and 2) it is too expensive.  Let me discuss each objection to this process.

1) Your Life Public:

I do not want my life to be publicly broadcast on the Internet! This is a fair objection but one that tends to miss the clear distinction between “life-logging” and “life-blogging.” Gordon Bell makes this distinction clear at the beginning of this text when he states:

Those who put their lives up on the web for others to view are called life bloggers (blog being short for “web log”). I am a life logger, not a life blogger. That is, I log my life into my e-memory. I may be old-fashioned, but it strikes me as foolish to publish too much, especially to an unrestricted audience. (P. 20)

I agree with Bell, although I likely have published much more to the web about myself than he would. Indeed, I tend to be a bit of both: Life logger and a life blogger. But you do not have to broadcast your life to life log. Most of us life log as it it, but we do it on a smaller level. we take the occasional picture, keep the occasional voice mail message. Keep old letters, emails, papers we wrote in school and so on. So the question is not so much “do you life-log,” but to what degree do you life log and have you made the digital jump yet?

2) It costs too much.

Poppy cock (I always wanted to use that word in a post).  I have found that I saved money because of my Total Recall work.  Indeed, I got rid of so much clutter and physical stuff that I was able to move into a small space.  This cost less in rent, utilities and just about everything!  I saved so much money.  And I enjoy memories more because I see them more by looking at pictures displaying across my computer and TV!  Also, I can find my memories super fast.  Regardless, let us look at the basics needed to start a total recall project:

  •  Purchase a scanner to scan pictures and documents you now have on paper.  You can use a smart phone application, such as Genius Scan PDF scanner, or a real scanner.   If you have a smart phone, you can get the genius scan, or a similar app for free, or you can spend as low as 100 for a portable scanner.  When I started my Total Recall project, I purchased a 100 dollar scanner and now I rely on my genius scan PDF scanner.  ($100 or less)
  • A computer that allows you to somehow organize, tag, and start to sort your info.  This is the most expensive expense, but in today’s world, in Western Society, a computer is often a devise you likely have.  If you cannot afford a new computer, consider a used one.  Cost varies.
  • Time.  At the start of your Total Recall Project, it will take your time.  You need to scan, sort, and go through your stuff.  This takes time.  When I did it I spend my nights watching TV and scanning/tagging documents. I had boxes upon boxes of journals, pictures and memories to scan.  It took about over 3 months to complete most of the work.  I still have some pictures to scan actually and I am thinking of going to a business that scans images. So put your own price on the time.

That is all you really need to start your  Total Recall project.  The rest, a smart phone, super computer, massive storage (over 1 TB), and so on, are all icing on the cake.  If you want to spurge, the best devise for your e-memory/life-logging work would be a smart phone.  These range from $99 – $400.0 depending on specials, and contracts with a phone company.  But what makes the smart phone great is that it can support amazing applications that integrate the collection of memories, images, scanning, and other life-logging needs.  It also makes collecting of your memories easy and spontaneous. Some of my favorite smart phone Apps include:

  • Genius scan
  • Evernote (web, desktop and mobile app)
  • Momento 
  • moesnotes
  • reeldirector
  • voice memos
  • reQall
  • social media applications (Facebook, Google+, Foursquare, and so on)
  • food and health programs
  • exercise programs
  • headache trackers (I use iheadache for tracking my migraines)

And there are many more!