Google Glass and my new Pedego bike

Google Glass and my new Pedego bike

I wrote the following post to my students today about privacy, a surveillance society, embedded and invisible technology, and Google glass. Thought I would re-post it on my blog too.

This is not the best picture of me, but here I am wearing Google Glass with my new Pedego electric bike! Woot! The GPS function has really helped me find my way around the island without having to take my eyes off the road. But, here is a conversation I have a lot when wearing Google Glass:

Person: Are you recording me?

Me: No. Why, should I be? You doing anything YouTube worthy?

Person: haha. Doesn’t it record all the time?

Me: No, that would be a waste of battery, storage space and time ūüôā

Person: but you can look up information about me, can’t you?

Me: sure, the same way I might Google you on the internet, but you would know because I have to talk to it! It does not have face recognition or anything like that. Let’s Google you, shall we? “…. OK Glass …. Google Person.”

Person: Wow, I see a light on it!

Me: Yep! It would be rather hard for me to do anything on Glass without you knowing – you would have to be not looking at me ūüôā

End of Scene (and yes, I have had this conversation more times than I can count or remember).

Since before Google Glass came out, we were bombarded with articles about how Google Glass would invade our privacy. Companies jumped on the bandwagon to ban the device from their restaurants, see the 5 point Café, and there were lots of funny videos showing a man trying to scam pick up women using their Google glass. Of course, nobody knew what the hell they were talking about, and most people are still in the dark about the devise.

As we have learned in our textbook, what we need to be aware of is invisible technology and embedded technology. This is technology that is no longer on our radar because we don’t pay attention to it. Cameras on the street, being spied on at work, and so on and so forth. They are part of our everyday lives, like cell phones taking pictures here and there and everywhere.

Technology that we can’t see, or we simply ignore, that is what we should be worried about when it comes to surveillance, not technology like Google Glass. Google Glass is in your face and it can’t do anything more than your cell phone can do – and it does it more obviously. I have to give Google Glass verbal commands for it to work, although I can take a quick picture by taking my hand and pushing the button at the top of the glass. You will know if I am Googling you! You would not really know this if I was using my cell phone – I could do that in front of you, with a smile on my face, and you would not have a clue!

When it comes to voyeurism and invasion of privacy, be worried about the technology you cannot see, for example: a camera in a shoe. Here is a technology that has been around for years and years, and is being used ALL the time!

Although there are many lessons I want you to take away from this class, here is the lesson I really want you to take with you – the danger of embedded and invisible technology, ideology, and habits. Question what is not being said. Question what is not being seen. Question what is being left out of an article, a book, an argument and so on. The fact that it seems invisible, that’s what’s important. Technology and surveillance that you don’t know exists, or that becomes so every day that you don’t question it, you should be worried about that.

Think about it. I challenge you all to spend ONE day this weekend acknowledging all the recording devices you are exposed to: red light cameras, cameras in stores, all the time somebody takes a picture with a cell phone or portable camera, the use of cell phones, and so on and so forth. Be aware of the invisible technology in your life.


Oh NO! Those Lady Parts!

Oh those lady parts! ¬†This week stumbled upon a few articles that reaffirmed for me the sad reality of how our society continues to find women and women’s sexuality rather¬†objectionable. ¬†The first article comes to us from CNET, by author¬†, dated September 12. ¬†Apparently Facebook is continuing its¬†crusade¬†to protect us all from the female nipple, including cartoon ones.¬†Facebook blocked The New Yorker’s Facebook fan site because they posted a cartoon with Adam and Eve ‚Ķ. naked. ¬†Imagine. ¬†While examining the cartoon, one wonders what all the fuss is about! ¬†As a friend reminded me today, the first version of Facebook, or the early incarnation created by Zuckerman, was designed specifically to rate the “hotness” and objectify women. ¬†One wonders how the Facebook empire developed such an allergy to nipples (they often delete images of women breastfeeding because that’s objectionable as well). ¬†Lord. Read Matyszczyk’s article:¬†Facebook Beats its Breast Over New Yorker’s Heinous Nipples.

Not¬†wanting¬†to be left out of the fun, it is the vagina that Apple finds¬†offensive. ¬† In the Gardian today,¬†¬†reports on the fact that Apple has censored¬†Naomi Wolf’s new book, The Vagina: A Biography. ¬†Ironically, the book is about how “society has avoided thinking and talking about women’s genitals.” ¬†Irony is right, the new text is listed in the Apple bookstore as V‚Ķ..: A biography. ¬†Wolf is not the only author to get the VJayJay edit as Eve Ensler’s play The Vagina¬†Monologues¬†are also similarly censored. As Flood observes in her article, the irony continues as we read Apple’s description for this publication:

The Vagina: A Biography “looks back in history and show[s] us how the v****a was considered sacred for centuries until it began to be cast as a threat”, and asks why “even now in an increasingly sexualised world, it is thought of as slightly shameful”.

¬†Read Flood’s article “Vagina by Naomi Wolf Covered Up by Apple ITunes.”

While you’re at it, you should consider becoming a fan of Wolf on Facebook.

Image:¬†“The Eastern Favorite” by Edwin Long (1829 – 1891) – In public Domain via Wikimedia Commons