Glass

I thought the next time I would write on Google, it would be some more routine harping and teasing. I also thought it wouldn’t be so soon.

But I haven’t come to tease anyone this time. I am genuinely confused. They must be lunatics. They are insane – and they also currently handle my email for me.

Ars Technica writes:

Many months after the release of Google Glass to developers and early-adopters, Google is finally starting to suss out the inherent social awkwardness of the product. The company has released an official set of do’s and dont’s for participants in the Explorer program, some of which amount to a reminder that manners and basic courtesy still exist for the technologically elite.

An official set of "do's and dont's" . My god – I can hardly wait.

Before I walk you through the most arrogant document ever released, let me first say that I have been perched at the edge of my HISSMON eagerly awaiting Google’s official response to months of public torment for their serious undertaking of the controversial faceputer.

Half of me expected a cute webpage with a simple “Oops! We’re going to go on to something a little more helpful.” The other half of me expected this kind of document. See, being around engineers a lot, I have started to notice how much energy we waste trying to convince the user that they are wrong. Whenever a product is returned to the drawing board, every egghead in the room needs to pass through all the stages of grief before they can even consider opening up the hood again. I find it funny, but equally humbling. I’m already starting to notice that I do the same.

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Figure 1: Now that Google refers to Glass-wearers as “Explorers”, the Dora chatroom I moderate has descended into chaos.

Engineers are wrong

Every couple argues. At least once a month, I find myself stoking petty flames between me and my SO by exercising a faulty assumption. She’s not really frustrated with you. You just need to explain to her that she is not upset . If you are taken back by how preposterous that is, then congratulations – there is still hope for you. You may after all live a happy life of effortless human interface. For any engineers reading this, I’m going to be honest with you – that statement was supposed to sound ridiculous. You can’t convince people that they are not really frustrated. That is one thing they will always be right about.

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Figure 2: "I see you are trying to be passive aggressive. Want some help with that?"

So watching a delicate prototype emerge from a loving research lab only to be scorned by the greasy Internet community, I would only expect Google to be under the same temptation. They don’t like wearing Glass in public? They just aren’t using it right. We need to explain to people how to behave in public.

And so begins the circus of the official Google do’s and don’ts. I have linked to it, but I also pasted it into notepad, fearing Google would wake from its fitfull stupour and take the announcement down. Yes – it’s that bad.

The DONT'S of Wearing Glass

DON’T Glass-out. Glass was built for short bursts of information and interactions that allow you to quickly get back to doing the other things you love. If you find yourself staring off into the prism for long periods of time you’re probably looking pretty weird to the people around you. So don’t read War and Peace on Glass. Things like that are better done on bigger screens.

In other words, do you see that shiny glistening computer screen? Of course you do – it’s covering up half of your eyeball. Try not to stare at it. You may glance at it now and then for “short bursts of time”, but don’t stare. Just behave how you would normally around a solar eclipse. Remember – although Google made Glass to help you better maintain personal communication with others around while still keeping your digital communication active, you are going to have to behave a little differently when things are hovering menacingly in peripheral vision. I will reiterate – in order to reap the intended benefit of Glass, you are going to have to change your behavior.

DON’T Rock Glass while doing high-impact sports. Glass is a piece of technology, so use common sense. Water skiing, bull riding or cage fighting with Glass are probably not good ideas.

I know seeing the commercials of people frolicking in hot air balloons , riding roller coasters, doing gymnastics, and skydiving may have gotten you a little excited, but you are most definitely going to have to give up your previous life of high impact sports. You do want to rock Glass, right? Then give it a rest with all the moving around. After all, you are basically wearing an unprotected, expensive smart phone high up on your body. Beyond all the sports, you better not go anywhere dangerous either. There’s no stopping anyone from just yanking that pretty little machine right of your face and taking off down the street . When in rough areas, you better place glass in your pocket right next to your smartphone. Does Glass actually make phone calls yet? Can we confirm that? I will reiterate, Glass is intended to make your life easier. But you are going to have to live a bit less on the active side if you want to reap the immense benefits of Glass.

DON’T Wear it and expect to be ignored. Let’s face it, you’re gonna get some questions. Be patient and explain that Glass has a lot of the same features as a mobile phone (camera, maps, email, etc.). Also, develop your own etiquette. If you’re worried about someone interrupting that romantic dinner at a nice restaurant with a question about Glass, just take it off and put it around the back of your neck or in your bag.

We at Google are just going to be brutally honest here. We wanted Glass to enhance the way you talk to your friends. We want you to be able to read a tweet, check your email, and get right back to talking with your buddy all without taking your eyes away from the conversation.

But people are going to treat you differently. Some people just won’t understand how much easier it is to focus on what your are saying to them, even though you are equipped with a faceputer.

So you are going to have to improvise a bit. Since they will just be focused on the fact that you are wearing a computer on your face, you had better just talk about it. Show them all the things you can do with Glass all without removing your lifeless, dead face from the dull conversation about your new toy. I will reiterate – in order to enhance the way you talk to people, you are going to have to talk about Glass.

And in the rare occurrence that you and your glass-sporting self are anywhere romantic, you had better just take it off. Place it in your bag with all of your other electronics – you know – where society has decided it is ok for them to reside while you are interfacing with humans. I will reiterate – Glass is intended to enhance all meaningful relationships you will have with human beings, but if you perchance find yourself in a conversation that is far too meaningful for Glass, remove it from your face temporarily. Also, you should think about removing that relationship from your life. Clearly, it is disrupting your new social glass-driven workflow.

DON’T Be creepy or rude (aka, a “Glasshole”). Respect others and if they have questions about Glass don’t get snappy. Be polite and explain what Glass does and remember, a quick demo can go a long way. In places where cell phone cameras aren’t allowed, the same rules will apply to Glass. If you’re asked to turn your phone off, turn Glass off as well. Breaking the rules or being rude will not get businesses excited about Glass and will ruin it for other Explorers.

Ahhhhhhhhhhh. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t stay in character. You have GOT to be kidding me. I cannot believe this thing is real. This is the part in the document that I expected to be part of an elaborate Jimmy Kimmel prank to be revealed next week.

NOT ONLY did Google have the audacity to recognize the existence of the mocking coinage of “Glasshole”, but they were so smug to even misquote it.

No, Google. A glasshole isn’t someone who wears Glass AND continuously exhibits rude and creepy behavior.

A glasshole is simply someone who dared to wear Glass in public. No one spots a Glass-wearer and says Hey – that guy is wearing Glass. Let’s watch him for a minute and see if he behaves rudely – then he is most certainly a Glasshole . You have already spotted one.

Google – if you are going to own up to the satire out there, make sure next time you digest it completely. They actually took the time to contort the slang into a more corporate friendly meaning.

Papa Google may be getting senile

So what happened? I will enforce here that I am not a negative-nancy. Google is great when it is good. But after the systematic rape of the YouTube community, the gunpoint exodus to a cardboard Google+ community, and now this delusional “fix” to Glass’s lack of popularity, I can hear the funeral dirge with unmistakable pitch-perfect clarity. I believe Google is growing senile. As their backlog of solutions still in need of problems piles up, it’s becoming clear that Google no longer knows what real problems look like.

When Google started as a company, it was all about fixing problems for people. I saw Google as a young, ambitous company who sought to make searching the vast web easier for people. When they grew unhappy with the way email was done, they continued to shake the tech landscape up and rolled their own wildly useful Gmail. When Google grew unhappy with the selection of tools to browse the web, they bravely launched Chrome, which I still happily use for personal web browing myself. For years, Google was a breathe of fresh air in relieving the real frustration of real people. It was easy to get excited about whatever they were working on.

But in aging, greying years the questions Google was asking started to feel much less relevant. How can a Gmail user interact with their Google+ profile? How can a YouTube user post to their Google+ through their Google phone? How can a Hangouts user hangout with Gmail users? Things don’t even make sense anymore. Can we hang it up with all the nauseating and obtrusive hurdles for the sake of brand-name integration?

What I fear is happening with Google is that it has lost touch with real people. What makes me say that? Too many of their ideas are pungent with that overpowering board-room smell. There are too many investments in bad ideas to allow anything to fail. Consequently, Google has to convince us that they we are not actually frustrated with them. We are just using things wrongly. If Google decides how we should use their products, than why would we even be interested in the first place?

Google continues to confuse me. I hope for their sake that I am not the only one to ridicule the decision to publish "The Do's and Don't of Glass".