Through the Looking Google Glass

If God Had Intended Humans to Fly...

Now that Google Glass is being widely tested and written about, reactions are all over the map -- as they should be. That's a good sign for a new technology: our inability to come to consensus on the technical and social aspects at first. But in the long term, the technology always settles out.


I think it's actually a good thing that so many people are making fun of Google Glass. It's a measure of the disruptive power of a new technology that different people view it in different ways. When people don't quite know how to react something as amazing as Google Glass, it means that we have some social sorting out do. But humans are supremely adaptable. It's our forte. We do that in spades, and the Internet is our modern tool for that adjustment.

Image Credit: Phandroid

Consider this parallel. I am reminded of stories of missionaries, in previous times, taking pictures of people in far away lands, then showing the photos to them. In some cases, the reaction was one of fear or concern. The state of "capture" of the person's image was seen, in some cases, as evil, a dark magic. All of us think this is laughable because our culture has changed and us along with it.

When we don't know what to make of something new, like Google Glass, it's tempting to dismiss it. Or focus on the potential evils. In this case, the easy way users can capture images and video in a crowd. The fact that it makes people around the user uncomfortable, it may turn out, isn't sufficient to undermine the technology. In the end, our culture changes to adapt. And, as usual, some people will never fully adapt. Just look at how many of our parents never full embraced computers and the Internet.

If you'd like to get a hands on feel for how Google Glass really works, here's a great introduction over at Phandroid. The section, "Google Glass: Day in the Life" is by three users, Chris Chavez, Steve Albright, and Rob Jackson is especially helpful and will suggest how users (and passers by) are reacting to the technology.

Sure, a Saturday Night Live skit may be great fun, but it doesn't begin to build a framework for how we'll move forward with Google Glass, especially as the hardware sinks into invisibility from a distance. (That is, unless you're accustomed to letting comedy shows define your life's most important values.) Some will console themselves that GG will fail in society, but it won't.

Google Glass is too important to the technical development of homo sapiens. One might even say that a new species of humans is preparing to branch out. Some will be on that path and some will be left behind. And those screaming from behind will be the most vocal that they own the only true path and vision.

Isn't it always so?

Tech News Debris for the Week of May 6

Google Glass and the intrinsic technology aside, it's a popular thing for a company to say that it wants free and open competition. It makes the company look, outwardly, cheerful and honest about its service to the customer.

In fact, most companies view the competition darkly and do everything they can behind the scenes to crush the competition. Corporations are like organisms. They need to consume resources and destroy the competition in order to flourish. In that sense, can any company, looking out for its own survival ever truly be ultimately chivalrous? Jonny Evans explores: "EU, Motorola, Apple: How long will Google's 'Don't be evil' fiction last?"

Some of the best articles on the Internet are works of supreme technical passion. They can tend to be long, perhaps even tedious, but when you're done reading, you've been taken on a vast technical tour de force , bursting with insights. Such is this article in which Gary Bloom goes on the hunt for the perfect iPad writing tool.

The context is this: As the iPad hardware and software develop, it will become more and more a content creation tool. And so, we can't just pigeon-hole the tablet as a cute consumption tool, or we'll miss the technical flow forward.

If you've ever thought about a writing project on an iPad, you must read: "Crouching Nouns, Hidden Verbs: my search for a great iPad writing tool." By the way, just for reference, I have also reviewed UX Write and came to the same conclusion.

I know that TMO readers continue to wonder and worry about iWork '09. Peter Cohen is concerned as well. Mr. Cohen doesn't have answers, but posing the question to Apple, often, in productive ways, is part of the process. "Four years later, iWork apps need Apple's attention."

Part of me wonders if the lapse in Apple's attention to iWork is because the Internet has become such a powerful publishing medium that local content creation is just no longer on Apple's radar. Think about it. Almost everything you read is created with specialized Internet tools to be read on the Internet. If you really need to build a spreadsheet, you can always go find a PC running Windows and Excel.

Developers continue to wrestle with app economics. Here's a good discussion that points, in turn, to other articles worth reading as well. "The Psychology of App Pricing." An excerpt.

I completely agree with Lex, even though he is wrong. There is something magical about 99 cents. $4 is cheap in the grand scheme of computer pricing and cellular subscriptions but the reality is that many people immediately dismiss apps above $1.

I've experienced this many times. I'll be asked for a recommendation for a specific type of app. If I recommend a $0.99 app they usually buy it on the spot. If I recommend a $1.99 app, they cringe slightly and "think about it". If I recommend a $4.99 app, they go into spasms and grab a free alternative."

As we close in on a million apps available for iOS, one has to wonder: What have the developers gained? What have we gained? This is why I and others write reviews. To tell you that, yes, a $25 iOS app really is worth the price. Otherwise, how would anyone know? Certainly not from the "reviews" in the App Store.

Image Credit: Lisa Bettany

Finally, have you ever wondered, in a photographic sense, how the camera has evolved in the iPhone line? Here is just a fantastic photo-centric article, showing how the quality of the camera system in the iPhone has evolved over the years. This is must reading, um, viewing: "How does the iPhone 5 camera compare to previous iPhone cameras?"


Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro's observations and opinions about a standout event of the week combined with a summary of articles that didn't make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holidays.