Sometimes there are news items that just make you want to lay on the ground all day, like the guy in the radiohead video for “Just”. The story of a woman who was assaulted in a San Francisco bar for wearing Google Glass is one of those items.
What happened is this: Sarah Slocum was in the Molotov Bar on Haight St. in San Francisco showing her Google Glass specs to friends when other patrons not in her party became incensed that she had the tech specs on in the bar and objected to the possibility that she was filming them.
A confrontation ensued in which one of Slocum’s party threw a punch at the aggressors. A man ripped Google Glass off of Sarah’s face and ran out of the bar. Apparently she was able to retrieve the specs somehow, but in the process she says her purse and cell phone were stolen.
OMG so you'll never believe this but... I got verbally and physically asaulted and robbed last night in the city, had things thrown at me because of some wanker Google Glass haters, then some *bleeeeeeeeeep* tore them off my face and ran out with them then and when I ran out after him his *bleeeeeeep* friends stole my purse, cellphone walet and everything..
She also posted a video of a few seconds of the confrontation, which she said she started shooting towards the end of the encounter. You can see that she’s backing up while jawing with a man and a woman, and she says the man in the video is the one who stole her specs. (Ironically, she was not filming them until they attacked her.)
First of all, it is never acceptable to assault anyone or remove anything from their person. There is no excuse for what the alleged aggressors did, and Slocum did not deserve to be attacked, even if there’s a possibility that she may have been acting like a so-called “Glasshole”; even though the Molotov Bar is reportedly a dive bar with less-than-highbrow clientele; and even though everyone was probably drunk because it was late.
It’s also not okay for her acquaintance to have thrown a punch. That’s known as escalating the situation, and it’s possible that the whole thing would have resolved quickly if that party had not introduced violence to the confrontation. Even so, let’s steer quickly away from any insinuation that Slocum “deserved” anything.
Google Glass assault
It’s common for people to misunderstand new technology, but that misunderstanding is usually harmless. My favorite example of this is an anecdote about a fellow who got his house wired with electricity back when it first came to his town. He didn’t have any light bulbs yet, so he crammed a potato in the light socket to prevent all the electricity from leaking out.
We’re all guilty of some embarrassing level of tech ignorance at some point, but the incredibly strong reactions against Google Glass are bizarre and shocking. There are people who think that Google Glass is a magical device that records everything all the time and can even see through clothes. A police officer tried to ticket a woman for driving while wearing the specs. More than one establishment has banned Google Glass from the premises.
The primary issue, though, seems to be that people get upset at the idea that they may be recorded by someone wearing the specs. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t like the idea of being secretly recorded by a stranger either, but there are some problems with that logic when it comes to Google Glass.
For one thing, recording someone without their permission with Glass is kind of awkward. There’s the process of starting the video, which isn’t a completely inconspicuous action, and then--most importantly--the wearer has to stare at you to record you.
There’s also this: Everyone already has a spy camera in their pocket. It’s called a smartphone, and the devices have cameras that can often shoot in HD. It’s actually far easier to surreptitiously record someone with a smartphone than with Google Glass. All you have to do is hit the record button and pretend to be texting, or checking in with FourSquare, or posting something to Facebook or Twitter, or replying to an email, or--you get the idea.
Further, we’re all under surveillance most of the time we’re in public anyway. So what are Google Glass haters afraid of, exactly?
There’s another point not to miss here, which is that the term “Google Glass haters” (which, I know, I just used) is really a misnomer. The vast majority of people don’t “hate” Google Glass, because they clearly don’t understand it enough to hate it. “Google Glass ignoramuses” doesn’t roll off the tongue quick as nicely, but that ignorance is potentially more dangerous.
And that’s perhaps a more peaceful notion to take away from situations like these. Google Glass evangelists should always be ready to educate the curious. It sounds, actually, like that’s what Slocum may have been doing until others objected, but there’s only so much you can teach the fearful or willfully ignorant.