Eyes on me: Google Glass and the coming battle for attention

Google founder Sergey Brin made a confusing claim about Google Glass — the device that works like a smartphone but fits like a pair of glasses — at the TED conference this week.

Google Glass is a wearable device you talk to to get it to work. And yet Brin said it will free you from the anti-social, isolating, “emasculating” aspects of constantly checking a smartphone. Why?

Because when you interact with Google Glass, you don’t have to look down.

Wired’s Ryan Tate, who heard Brin’s comments, put the obvious objection (almost too) nicely:

Of course, devices like Google Glass are sure to have downsides as well. Hopefully not too many conversations fall dead as one party becomes immersed in highly targeted information overlaid onto their view of the other person. Surely losing your friend’s eye contact halfway through a sentence would be emasulating and socially isolating in its own way.

I’m as excited as the next girl about what Google Glass can make possible. But you’re never going to convince me that a wearable piece of technology that’s always in view and serves all kinds of urgent information in a blink is going to restore any part of our pre-smartphone social lives.

That’s not optimism. It’s fantasy.

I’m looking forward to Glass, but I’m not looking forward to going stealth as I compete with it for friends’ attention.

At least when they’re looking at their phone, I know where it is.


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