Thursday, July 04, 2013

Glass on the Fourth of July

I wore Google Glass, the cyborg accessory of the future, to Lewisburg Pennsylvania's (Population 5,610) July 4th parade.

This lasted all of 15 minutes.

The idea sounded fine in theory, it was a public event after all, exactly the sort of use case where using something like Glass seems the least problematic. No one really expects privacy at a parade.

It wasn't the surveillance aspect that got me, mostly, though the acceleration of the transformation of the public of small town Pennsylvania (Castells' "Space of Places") into the public of YouTube/Google (Castells' "Space of Flows") by me, unilaterally, by wearing this surveillance rig around on my head was pretty uncomfortable.

Instead, what was most unnerving was the sense that, by displaying this $1500 piece of titanium and plastic on my brow I was somehow wearing a sort of uniform. Claiming my allegiance to a corporate-technocratic order, a Google nation, rather than the town I was standing in, or the nation-state (however problematic, as the lines of military re-enactors and equipment reminded me) it was celebrating.

This was, in all too many ways, an uncomfortable reflection of an unflattering truth. One that simply removing the device from my head could not undo.

I went home sheepishly and removed the Glass, and returned to the parade with my DSLR. Now I appeared to be just taking pictures like everyone else. 

No comments: