Sarah Slocum: why did you think bringing your Google Glass to a bar was appropriate?
Pete Pachal in his latest Mashable column made the point that if there is anything to learn about the sad saga of Sarah Slocum and her being accosted by bar patrons for wearing her Google Glass it is what does it tell us about the future of wearables? We are now saturated with the idea that we must share everything about ourselves. Privacy, while something that most Americans claim to value and cherish, seems to be the first thing that gets tossed out the window when sharing our lives to the extent that we do when accessing the Internet. Wearables now make it possible to record and/or photograph while having something attached to your body. It is public. And people don’t know when you are in the act of recording with your wearable.
Google Glass: The future of wearables
Now to make matters worse, Google Glass comes along enabling the wearer to capture photos and/or video with the slightest touch of a finger. You don’t need a conventional camera or video player. This wearable, as seen on your face, makes it known to anyone watching you that you could be recording at any given time. I remember when I took a camera into a bar one night. This was many years ago. I started taking random photos of people drinking and cavorting with their friends. I didn’t get too many evil looks but the bartender or manager eventually came over to me and politely asked me to stop. He made it abundantly clear that I was being overly intrusive on other people’s privacy and was making them feel uncomfortable. I stopped taking photos and that was the end of it. I was not accosted and there was no brouhaha that made it into the news or a Mashable column.
But in reviewing Sarah Slocum’s incident, what strikes me the most is her plain naivety. I think the Molotov bar patron who is quoted in this video is correct. Sarah showed no tact in wearing and/or bringing Google Glass into a bar. It doesn’t justify her being accosted by any means but it does explain why some felt that she was being provocative and disapproved of it.
Why do I want to wear something on my face?
One thing that consistently strikes me about Google Glass is this idea that I even want to wear something on my face. Why did I get LASIK surgery? I was tired of wearing something on my face. These are called glasses. Why would I want to wear Google glass if I need to wear glasses on my face? Yes, if sunshine is blinding my eyes, I will want a pair of sunglasses. Otherwise, I like having my face free from any device. How is Google Glass supposed to work without the need for glasses?
Are there environments not appropriate for wearables?
Sarah Slocum loves her Google Glass. She thinks Glass is the most incredible wearable technology to come along since….whatever preceded it. I’m glad she’s so enthralled with her Glass. What I’m wondering is, what will Sarah learn from this experience? Is she going to nestle into her own viewpoint and stand by the fact that she was accosted and for no reason whatsoever? Because if that is all she takes away from this unfortunate experience, I think she’s missing the boat. Google Glass is disruptive wearable technology. It’s not currently being mass marketed and is still a product in search of a problem. Do we need Google Glass? No, we don’t. Google co-founder Sergey Brin funded its creation. He is wealthy beyond measure and had plenty of time on his hands to develop a new technology. The rest of the working class does not have Google Glass on its mind. Disruptive technology always gets a cool reception.
If Glass eventually finds its niche, I believe Slocum’s experience will soon be a minor footnote to history. On the other hand, Glass won’t find a mass market any time soon. Pricing needs to come down considerably if Sergei Brin expects to sell bunches of Glass to the consumer market. Right now, it exists for a privileged few to experiment with and come up with uses for. I firmly believe Google Glass is a product looking for a problem to solve. Although I am told that current uses for Google Glass being explored lie in such areas as medicine, school, assisting blind people, journalists and/or filmmakers, disabled people, etc…) Far cry from the bar scene!
I believe Sarah Slocum was being a glasshole. I don’t think it was her intention to be one when she went to Molotov that night. Her wearing Google Glass did not justify her being accosted. The bar patrons cannot defend their behavior simply because Slocum wore her Glass with her friends. What it shows is Slocum’s incredible naivete in thinking she would be warmly received in such a setting by wearing provocative wearable technology. That alone justifies my describing her as such. If you read this, Sarah, I’m happy to dialogue with you further about this incident. I’m happy to do so with you even wearing your Google Glass. I just ask that we don’t meet in a bar. I’m happy to meet you in Golden Gate Park.