Watching the World Through Glass


Next week I am going to give a series of seminars on Google Glass in London.
(Feel free to attend!)

In order to get ready for this, I have been wearing (using?) Glass for the past two months.

It is an 'interesting' experience. And, while you can't get Glass yet (unless you are an 'explorer' and want to pay $1500), there are now, apparently, a plethora of competitors and imitators in the works. I expect that within the next year or two we are going to see lots of 'Glass' and similar devices.

Based on my own experiences, this is going to be big. Very big. And I am not sure as to what the ramification of all this will be. There are lots of privacy issues, (among other things) that the introduction and adoption of Glass and its like are going to raise.

First, for the experience:

They like to call Glass a 'wearable' technology. In my experience, this is not the case. I would rather call it an 'immersive' technology, in that the user is more or less 'immersed' into the online world 24/7.

You know how your friends (some of them at least) spend half their time staring at their phones? Well now they can spend ALL of their time staring at their phones -- it never leaves their gaze, even when they are looking at you. That, essentially, is what Glass does. It puts you online and you never have to leave. Nor do you have to figure a way to look at your phone while trying to pay attention to what is going on in front of you. What is going on in front of you IS your phone.

Torn between the general banality of one-on-one human contact and the limitless world of the web, most people opt for the web. Well, why not? You can text, you can email, you can call, you can video Skype, you can check sports scores, news updates, Facebook, Instagram, CNN, What'sApp (whatever that is), stock quotes, get GPS directions to wherever you are going (but why bother to go anywhere when the world comes to you).

And that's just the start.

You can also listen to music, take and share photos, take and share videos -- on and on and and on. Compare that to droning on with your pals at work about what they brought for lunch.

You see, like I said, a whole new world.

So is this going to catch on?

Did the iPhone catch on?

There's an old expression that says 'necessity is the mother of invention'. I am sure you have heard it.

Nothing could be further from the truth. There was no 'necessity' for Glass. (There was no 'necessity' for the Internet. Millions of people were not out in the streets chanting "we want email now!"). Inventions come along unbidden, and they take on a life of their own. Even their inventors often don't know what they will create.

When Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, he listed 50 possible uses for his new invention. Number one was 'recording the last words of the dying' -- something we ALL do now. Listening to recorded music never even made the list.

So too it is with Glass.

The idea here is to be able to be able to access the web all the time and get all the information you need whenever you need it. Well, it certainly does that. But there is something about being able to record everything that you see or that happens to you and then 'share' it with the rest of the world all the time that strikes me as the core of where this is going.

And that... well that's a very different world from the one we all have lived in... at least until now.