Google Glass Wasn't a Failure
It raised crucial concerns
Six years later, it’s still fun to make fun of Google Glass. A reference to Google Glass is shorthand for hubris, foolishness, a tech company completely missing the mark on what regular human beings like. Glass represents everything we love to mock about Silicon Valley — a bunch of nerds making ugly products that nobody actually wants to use.
But where many people see Google Glass as a cautionary tale about tech adoption failure, I see a wild success. Not for Google of course, but for the rest of us. Google Glass is a story about human beings setting boundaries and pushing back against surveillance — a tale of how a giant company’s crappy product allowed us to envision a better future.
The main critique of Google Glass wasn’t really that they looked stupid (although, to be clear, they did). People were kicked out of bars for wearing Glass because the device represented a form of ubiquitous recording. Glass was outfitted with a camera that the user could activate at any time, and this, rightfully, freaked people out. The New York Times ran a front-page story about Glass, wondering whether it would mean the end of privacy as we know it. A group cheekily named Stop the Cyborgs pushed against Glass "to stop a future in which privacy is impossible and central control total." Even the bar in Seattle that briefly became famous for banning Glass did so in part because of a existing policy that forbid patrons from taking videos or photos without consent. (And because doing so would get them media attention and perhaps some new customers.)
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