Google Combats Glass Backlash with Mobile Education

by Matt Klassen on March 17, 2014

Will we ever accept Google Glass and other such wearable technology as part of our social norm? Will we ever reach a place where people who walk down the street saying random voice commands or staring off into space are no longer the exception, but the rule for acceptable conduct? Many people are saying no, pushing back against this latest intrusive and annoying technological trend.

With social etiquette and mobile manners a thing of the past one can justifiably see where concerns surrounding Google Glass are wrought, as its one thing to stand behind the loud talker in a line-up for coffee, it’s another to think that person may covertly be recording you on video or taking a quick glance at some inappropriate online material. In fact, one need only read Becky Worley’s report from South By Southwest on Google Glass at Yahoo Tech, titled Why Google Glass Will Never Be Okay, to see that the backlash against such tech has already begun.

While they say that all publicity is good publicity, it’s clear that this firestorm of concern over a device that has yet to go mainstream has Google rethinking its rollout strategy, offering the public (both users and sceptics alike) something it has needed since the inception of the smartphone: education.

If there’s one thing that’s been blindingly obvious to me for the last ten years or so it’s that smartphones need to come with an instruction booklet. Not a booklet that tells you how to turn on your phone or operate it mind you, but one that gives the user some guidelines for acceptable mobile etiquette; perhaps titled, “How Not to Enrage Your Neighbour,” or something like that.

The absence of such mobile education has left both our social norms and technological knowledge in tatters, as a generation of parents responsible for teaching the youth about acceptable technological practices are themselves making it up as they go along. The result: a generation of kids who have little grasp of the true power of technology, and parents who aren’t much better.

So perhaps its understandable to feel that technological development is spinning out of control, as given the fact that social norms haven’t even caught up to current smartphone technology people are ill-equipped to handle the next epoch of mobile development and its own cadre of accompanied social changes.

Given that Google Glass has elicited such polarizing responses from the general public, Google is now working to combat this growing idea that Glass is “rude, weird, or creepy,” offering its users a social guide of sorts, suggesting ways for users to avoid being labeled a ‘glasshole,’ that is elitist users who uses the wearable technology to purposefully alienate others.

From don’t record others without their knowledge, to, expect questions, to, be part of the Glass community, the suggestions come as equal parts education and equal parts marketing, Google wanting to make sure that current users don’t alienate future users, while working as extensions of the company to grow the Glass brand.

While I still have to shake my head that someone needs to be told not to be weird and creepy, having seen the social monster that smartphones have created, I have to say I’m not surprised. In fact, I find myself mildly encouraged, not by the prospect of talking to someone wearing this ostentatious and gaudy piece of technology, but by the fact that Google has realized that one can not simply let technology loose on an unsuspecting populace and expect everything to be okay; and although that’s not much, I still consider it progress.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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