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Google Starting Anti-Glasshole Campaign?

Glasshole has become firmly entrenched in the popular lexicon. Urban Dictionary, that storehouse of knowledge and wisdom, defines it many times over. Glassholes record you without your knowledge. They talk to Google instead of you. They flaunt Glass. Well, Google has heard just about enough of this anti-Google Glass business, and they’re firing back.

Google has taken to Google+ to defend Google Glass, listing ten myths about their upcoming device. There aren’t ten myths, of course, but ten is the classic number for list making, so Google came up with a few straw men to round it out. No one is claiming that Glass is ‘ready for prime time,’ or that it’s ‘banned…EVERYWHERE,’ but what good tech titan doesn’t love a little myth-making now and again?

Of course, the main point of the post is to convince people that Glass isn’t the privacy-killing, social rot harbinger that so many have made it out to be. And, there are some good points here, even if Google had to overstate opposing viewpoints to get there. After all, I’m fairly sure no one considered Google Glass to be the perfect surveillance device, but yes, it is true that there are plenty of commercially available cameras much better for surreptitious recording. I’m not sure how ‘others are worse than us!’ is a valid defense of Glass, but sure, the point is taken.

That said, give Google credit for shining light on one thing – the limitations on Glass’ hardware and software. As we’ve pointed out before, the battery life of Google Glass, as it stands now, is atrocious. It’s funny, because Google uses that point to paint Glass as a poor surveillance device, as taking constant video would run the battery down in less than an hour. On the software side, Google says that all apps are going to have to go through the MyGlass store. Fair enough – it’s not going to be like the Wild West of Google Play. Google has already said they’re going to be tough on what gets admitted to the MyGlass store, although if you don’t trust Google already, that probably doesn’t offer you much in the way of reassurance.

The post also tries to claim that Google Glass isn’t a distraction from life, because the display is slightly above the eye, not right in front of your face. With apologies to Google, that’s not how attention works. To use Glass, you will be distracted from whatever it is you’re doing. People can only focus their full attention on one thing at a time – if you’re looking up to use Glass, you’re not focusing on the person (or car!) in front of you. If you’re with another person, and you have Glass on your face, the other person has every reason to think you’re not 100% there. It’s just as big of a distraction as a smartphone – looking up to use it instead of looking down is a superfluous distinction.

Then, there’s the bizarre inclusion of the myth that ‘Glass is only for those privileged enough to afford it.’ Besides giving the lie to a guilty conscience on Google’s part, I’m not sure what they’re going for here – this ‘myth’ is true of all expensive things, and Google Glass isn’t special in that regard. Trying to say that something expensive isn’t just for the wealthy doesn’t make a whole lot of sense – virtually by definition, it is. As a side note, it’s funny that Google would mention Kickstarter as a way many (non-wealthy) Explorers paid for their device, because I’m pretty sure that’s against Kickstarter’s terms of service.

Google is overstating the claims of their critics to make a defense that doesn’t exactly square with reality. But, then again, most Glass critics overstate the capabilities of Google Glass to make an attack that doesn’t always square with reality, either. Anyway, this post probably means that Google is gearing up to defend Glass for the long haul, and might mean that Glass is actually coming to market sometime soon – Google is still targeting this year for a wider release. So, if you think the rhetoric flying between the two sides is juicy now, you’d better go stock up on popcorn, because it’s going to get delicious once anyone can become a Glasshole.